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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 science-based storybook, 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... (View More) when they might return. The book is one of a series in the Elementary GLOBE unit designed to introduce students to the study of Earth system science (ESS). Each book has companion learning activities that complement the science covered in each story. Together, the books form an instructional unit that addresses ESS and related subjects (e.g., weather, water, seasons, soil, and aerosols). The GLOBE Program is a worldwide, hands-on, K-12 school-based science education program. (View Less)
In this activity, students engage in long-term systematic observation to learn about the apparent annual motion of the Sun caused by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Students put a dot on a window where sunlight enters the classroom (or any room... (View More) into which sunlight enters each day) and mark the position of the shadow cast by the dot day by day and throughout the school year. To make a personal connection to the activity, spots marked on a student’s birthday can be labeled with the student’s name. This activity can be done as a whole class or individual project. Part 1 of this activity involves establishing location, and casual observation over the course of a day. Part 2, involves “daily” (Monday, Wednesday, Friday is fine) marking of Sun-track at a specific time of day over the course of at least a month. This activity should be run for at least a month, but is best as a school-year-long project. The lesson includes a math extension activity to calculate the average daily motion at which the sunbeam shadow moves, as well as background information about the analemma. This activity is the fourth lesson in the Ancient Eyes Look to the Skies curriculum guide. (View Less)