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This article explains the causes of the summer and winter solstice. It also includes notes about the historical importance of solstices. SciJinks is a joint NASA/NOAA educational website targeting middle school-aged children and their educators. It... (View More) explores weather and Earth science through articles, videos, images, and games. (View Less)
This article explains the role of the tilt of Earth's axis on seasonal changes. An accompanying exploration dispels the commonly held misconception that distances between the sun and Earth are a factor. The article is targeted to children ages 10-12.
This is a set of instructions for building a physical model. The model simulates the Sun's paths across the sky at summer solstice, winter solstice, and the spring and fall equinoxes. A bead simulates the Sun, moving along a cord, from rising along... (View More) the eastern horizon to setting on the western. The bead can be moved from path to path to demonstrate solar alignments, the solstices, and equinoxes. The model is created to be unique to the user's latitude, and is useful for including in lessons that teach about the seasons or archaeoastronomy. (View Less)
This is an activity about the Moon's formation, changes over time, gravitational connection to Earth, or influence on our culture and urban legends. Learners share their learning by creating zines: small, self-published magazines inexpensively... (View More) duplicated on standard letter paper and folded into eight-page booklets. This is the concluding activity of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
This is an activity about the rotation of the Moon. Learners use a penny and a quarter to model that the Moon does indeed spin on its axis as it orbits the Earth. They find that the Moon keeps the same face toward the Earth, but receives... (View More) illumination from the Sun on all sides in turn. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
This is an activity about the Moon's influence on Earth. Learners think like a scientist — with reasoning skills and a healthy amount of skepticism — to sort puzzle pieces containing statements about the Moon into two images. The "Far-out Far... (View More) Side" has incorrect statements about the Moon (urban myths), and "True-Blue Blue Moon" has true facts about the Moon’s influence on Earth and life. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
This is an activity about the tides. Learners discover how the Moon's gravitational pull causes the level of the ocean to rise and fall twice a day along most coastlines. Six children represent the oceans, solid Earth, Moon, and Sun and move their... (View More) bodies to show the interactions of these elements. They then consider what the Earth's tides might have been like if there were no Moon. They model the smaller tides that would be produced solely by the Sun. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
Learners model how Earth's tilt creates the seasons. They use their bodies to review the Earth's daily motions before investigating the reason for Earth's seasons in this kinesthetic exploration. The motion of the Earth about its axis (rotation) and... (View More) in orbit around the Sun (revolution) is related to the appearance of the sky over the course of the day and year. Next they model that if the Earth's tilt was not stabilized by Moon, Earth's axis would slowly wobble between straight up (0° tilt) to nearly on its side (80° tilt). The resulting seasonal extremes would be unfavorable for life. Note that this activity is appropriate for children who are able to explore the geometry of Sun-Earth-Moon relationships in three dimensions. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
Learners explore Earth's rotation and the Moon's role in our 24-hour day, using their bodies to explore and model the Earth's daily motions in this kinethetic exploration. They relate the motion of the Earth about its axis (rotation) to the... (View More) appearance of the sky over the course of the day. Learners consider the role of the Moon in slowing Earth's rotation over time; if the Moon didn't exist, Earth might be spinning more quickly, giving us an eight-hour day! This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
Learners use a Styrofoam ball, sunlight, and the motions of their bodies to model the Moon's phases outdoors. An extension is to have children predict future Moon phases. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon.