Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Measuring the Sun's Movement

For the next few days, I'll be talking about how to excite your students to follow the Sun.

For many years, my Earth Science classes measured the Sun's movement across the sky in three seasons and plotted and studied what that meant. It was one of the most meaningful and exciting things I've ever done.

First we had our students build Sunscopes. I'm going to offer a simpler Sun Clinometer to have your students build.

Then you have your students measure the altitude of many things inside and outside your school until they understand how to measure Altitude which measures height above the horizon in degrees.

You also have to teach Azimuth which uses a compass and indicates the direction from north in degrees.

Finally, by taking and plotting the measurements in the fall, winter, and spring or early summer, you can show the seasonal changes of the Sun in the sky. This touches things like length of day/night and where the sun is in the sky during each season.

I had a set of clear plastic domes that we used to plot the three seasons with wax pencils. Even kewler!

This was one of the biggest ongoing projects I've ever done. It was worth all the work. It real REAL SCIENCE in its purest form: OBSERVATION. I loved it. I'm hoping some of you will, too!


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