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In this activity, learners draw a circle with a single focus, an ellipse with two foci close together, and an ellipse with two foci far apart, and compare the shapes. Learners then measure the Sun in four images each taken in a different season,... (View More) comparing the apparent size of the Sun in each image to determine when Earth is closest to the Sun. This is the second activity in the SDO Secondary Learning Unit. The activity is reprinted with permission from the Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS). (View Less)

This is an activity about the motion of the Earth around the Sun. Learners will act out the motions of Earth as it orbits around the Sun over the course of one year, starting with modeling one day, then one year, and finally the months.

In this hands-on activity, learners begin by estimating the size of each planet in our Solar System and Pluto and making each out of playdough or a similar material. Then, learners follow specific instructions to divide a mass of playdough into the... (View More) size of each planet and Pluto and compare the actual modeled sizes to the students' own predictions. This activity requires a large amount of playdough material per group of learners. Three pounds is the minimum amount required for each group. (View Less)

This is an activity about the concept of direct versus indirect sunlight. Learners construct and use a sun angle analyzer to investigate the effect of angle on area illuminated. The fraction of light on each square of the analyzer is then calculated... (View More) and compared. A discussion at the end relates the results to the amount of sunlight falling on different parts of the Earth and the effect this has on temperature and seasons. Reprinted with permission from the Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS). (View Less)

This is an activity about the measurement of time. Learners model the rotation of Earth over one day by holding a flashlight for the Sun and a blow up globe, and record their observations. Then, they use those observations to create devices that... (View More) will track time and test their devices outside. This final part of this activity requires access to a sunny outdoor location for an extended period of time so learners can test their time measurement devices. (View Less)

This activity, effective outdoors or indoors, demonstrates how insolation is affected by latitude by using a pair of thermometers, each taped to some cardboard, placed outside on a sunny day. A globe can also be used, outdoors or indoors. Students... (View More) learn that seasonal variations in temperature are the result of the heating of the Sun as a function of its peak angle and length of the day. A template for a folded paper structure to explore the effects of the angle of illumination on heating is included. The resource is from PUMAS - Practical Uses of Math and Science - a collection of brief examples created by scientists and engineers showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes have real world applications. (View Less)

In this activity, students learn about the motion of the Sun in relation to the Earth, and how geographic directions are defined. Students use a tetherball pole (or an alternative) as a gnomon and the shadow the Sun casts to determine the exact... (View More) directions of north, south, east and west. The best tetherball pole to use is one that is in full sunlight for most of the day, one that is vertical and unbent, and one that is built on asphalt or concrete. This activity can be done as a whole class or individual project. Part 1 of this activity involves the initial marking of the tetherball pole shadow using chalk (about 10 minutes) and subsequent markings by one or two students (less than 5 minutes) every half hour over a four-hour period. Students keep a record of the gnomon’s shadow by recording a sketch in their logs. Part 2 of this activity involves using a piece of string to connect the dots after the final observation, then bisecting this arc to determine north and south. The lesson includes discussion questions, background information about gnomons, and a math extension activity making and graphing the tetherball's shadow length at different times. This activity is the fifth lesson in the Ancient Eyes Look to the Skies curriculum guide. (View Less)