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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.
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 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)
In this kinesthetic activity, learners act out the rotation and revolution motions of Earth around the Sun over the course of one year. Learners also physically model the tilt of the Earth and will identify the summer and winter solstice and vernal... (View More) and autumnal equinox locations in relation to Earth's orbit around the Sun. (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 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)
This worksheet provides a pair of satellite world maps, showing vegetation in January and July, and has a series of questions guiding exploration of the similarities and differences in the two images. The activity is from Space Update, a collection... (View More) of multimedia educational resources about the Earth and Space. Summary background information, data and images supporting the activity are available on the Earth Update data site. (View Less)
in this illustrated story, students learn about seasonal migration of hummingbirds as they are exposed to the scientific process. Students Anita, Simon and Dennis and the rest of Ms. Patel's class research when the hummingbirds have gone and when... (View More) they might return. This science-based storybook is the one of four under the title Elementary GLOBE; each book also has companion learning activities that complement the science covered in each story. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide, hands-on, K-12 school-based science education program. (View Less)
In this activity, students learn the basics of the horizon, direction and the rising and settings of the Sun and stars by making a schoolyard "medicine wheel" with sidewalk chalk on playground asphalt. Medicine wheels are stone rings constructed by... (View More) the Plains people of North America which may have been used as a calendar system based on observations of objects in the sky. This activity requires a flat area at least 6 meters across – preferably asphalt or concrete – that has a good view of the sky. It can be done as a whole class activity. Part 1 of this activity involves constructing the medicine wheel (about 10-15 minutes). Part 2 of this activity involves making ongoing observations throughout the year at noon (about 10-15 minutes for each observation). Part 3 involves making observations from the wheel during after-school hours to observe the rising or setting points of stars, the Sun and Moon. Discussion questions, background information and a math extension activity are included. This activity is the second lesson in the Ancient Eyes Look to the Skies curriculum guide. (View Less)