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This is an activity about the shape of the Earth’s orbit. Learners will first use elements of the orbit of Earth and Pluto and an apparatus using string, a pencil, and pushpins to accurately draw an ellipse, showing the nearly circular shape of... (View More)

This is a lesson plan for an activity illustrating the reasons for the seasons. Learners predict sunrise, noon, and sunset positions on the dates of the equinoxes and solstices, observe these positions in a planetarium, plot their data on graphs,... (View More)

In this activity, learners will discuss possible reasons for the seasons, create a list of suggested factors, test these factors in research groups, and report their findings in a symposium format. This is Activity B-9 of Universe at Your Fingertips... (View More)

This is an activity about the size and scale of the Sun-Earth system. Learners will take an imaginary trip to the Sun by comparing images of the Sun and Earth at different points in altitude above the Earth. This is to ultimately conceptualize the... (View More)

This is an activity about how the Earth's axial tilt causes its seasons. Learners will make a model using polystyrene spheres and a light bulb to represent the Earth-Sun system, showing why the tilt of the Earth’s spin axis causes its seasons due... (View More)

Keywords: NSTA2013
Audience: Middle school
Materials Cost: $1 - $5 per student

This is an activity about the position of the Moon and the Sun in the sky. Learners will use styrofoam balls to model the interactions between the Earth, Sun, and phases of the Moon. This is Activity A-5 of Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0: A... (View More)

This is an activity about seasons. Learners will analyze monthly temperature data from various cities around the globe in order to dispel the misconception that the distance between Earth and Sun may be responsible for the seasons. This is Activity... (View More)

Audience: Middle school
Materials Cost: Free per group of students

In this activity, students become familiar with the orientation of shadows, their size in relation to the object casting them, and how the alignment of the Sun, the object, and the shadow tells us much about how shadows work. Supplies needed for... (View More)

Keywords: Angle

This inquiry activity supports student understanding of the cause of light, heat and shadow, how to measure the passage of time, and how to use rules and other measuring tools. Students make observations using shadows, a meter stick, and a homemade... (View More)

In this introductory activity, students are introduced to the fundamental tools of scientific inquiry: observing, identifying changes, perspectives and patterns. Materials needed include student journals, pencils, crayons, plastic sample bags,... (View More)

Audience: Elementary school
Materials Cost: 1 cent - $1 per student