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This is an activity during Solar Week, a twice-yearly event in March and October during which classrooms are able to interact with scientists studying the Sun. Outside of Solar Week, information, activities, and resources are archived and available... (View More) online at any time. This is an activity about telling time using the Sun. Learners will create a solar shadow tool and use it to chart changes in the Sun's altitude through the seasons. This activity is scheduled to occur during Thursday of Solar Week. The activity requires access to a sunny outdoor location over the course of several days, weeks, or months, as well as materials and equipment such as pine board, dowel rod piece, drill and drill bit, saw, bulls-eye level, small nails, and either wood glue or hot glue. (View Less)
The tilt of Earth's axis as the cause of Earth's seasons is explained in text and illustrations. SciJinks is a joint NASA/NOAA educational website targeting middle school-aged children and their educators. It explores weather and Earth science... (View More) through articles, videos, images, and games. (View Less)
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)
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 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.
In this self-paced tutorial, learners examine data to determine the relative contribution of what we call natural climate cycles and that of human-caused greenhouse gases to contemporary climate change. Changes in the Earth-Sun geometry over time... (View More) are explored using interactive digital applets. A section supporting pedagogical techniques that begin with student prior conceptions and a list of common Earth science student misconceptions are included. Vocabulary terms are hot linked to a glossary. This is the sixth of ten self-paced professional development modules providing opportunities for teachers to learn about climate change through first-hand data exploration. (View Less)
In this activity, students will examine line plots of NASA data and see that the sun heats up land, air, and water. Students will practice drawing conclusions based on graphed data of cloudy vs. clear sky observations. The lesson provides detailed... (View More) procedures, related links and sample graphs, follow-up questions, extensions, and teacher notes. Designed for student use, MY NASA DATA LAS samples micro datasets from large scientific data archives, and provides structured investigations engaging students in exploration of real data to answer real world questions. (View Less)
In this data analysis activity, Students will plot and analyze a time series of data for high cloud coverage from a specified location (home or school) and determine whether or not a seasonal pattern exists. The lesson includes step-by-step... (View More) instructions for use of the MY NASA DATA Live Access Server (LAS), guiding students through selection of a data set from a location of their choice, importing the data into a spreadsheet, creating graphs, and analyzing data plots. The lesson provides detailed procedures, related links and sample graphs, follow-up questions, extensions, and teacher notes. Designed for student use, MY NASA DATA LAS samples micro datasets from large scientific data archives, and provides structured investigations engaging students in exploration of real data to answer real world questions. (View Less)