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This article explains the causes of the summer and winter solstice. It also includes notes about the historical importance of solstices. SciJinks is a joint NASA/NOAA educational website targeting middle school-aged children and their educators. It... (View More) explores weather and Earth science through articles, videos, images, and games. (View Less)
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.
This is a set of instructions for building a physical model. The model simulates the Sun's paths across the sky at summer solstice, winter solstice, and the spring and fall equinoxes. A bead simulates the Sun, moving along a cord, from rising along... (View More) the eastern horizon to setting on the western. The bead can be moved from path to path to demonstrate solar alignments, the solstices, and equinoxes. The model is created to be unique to the user's latitude, and is useful for including in lessons that teach about the seasons or archaeoastronomy. (View Less)
Learners model how Earth's tilt creates the seasons. They use their bodies to review the Earth's daily motions before investigating the reason for Earth's seasons in this kinesthetic exploration. The motion of the Earth about its axis (rotation) and... (View More) in orbit around the Sun (revolution) is related to the appearance of the sky over the course of the day and year. Next they model that if the Earth's tilt was not stabilized by Moon, Earth's axis would slowly wobble between straight up (0° tilt) to nearly on its side (80° tilt). The resulting seasonal extremes would be unfavorable for life. Note that this activity is appropriate for children who are able to explore the geometry of Sun-Earth-Moon relationships in three dimensions. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
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.
The 9-session NASA Family Science Night program invites middle school children and their families to discover the wide variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics being performed at NASA and in everyday life. Family Science Night... (View More) programs explore various themes on the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and the Universe through fun, hands-on activities, including at-home experiments. Information about Family Science Night implementation and support resources, including the facilitator's guide, are available by registering on the Family Science Night Facilitators website (see Related & Supplemental Resources for link). (View Less)
This is an online set of information about astronomical alignments of ancient structures and buildings. Learners will read background information about the alignments to the Sun in such structures as the Great Pyramid, Chichen Itza, and others.... (View More) Next, the site contains 10 short problem sets that involve a variety of math skills, including determining the scale of a photo, measuring and drawing angles, plotting data on a graph, and creating an equation to match a set of data. Each set of problems is contained on one page and all of the sets utilize real-world problems relating to astronomical alignments of ancient structures. Each problem set is flexible and can be used on its own, together with other sets, or together with related lessons and materials selected by the educator. This was originally included as a folder insert for the 2010 Sun-Earth Day. (View Less)
This is a companion book to the Traditions of the Sun web site. Learners can use the book to learn about the Sun's dynamic nature, explore images from NASA's cutting-edge solar missions and understand more fully the human connection we all have to... (View More) our Sun. The book also allows learners to see how the Sun-Earth connection is made at Chaco Canyon, including the sunrise over Chaco Canyon's great kiva, celebrations of the changing seasons in the Southwest and the Great Houses whose placement required precise observations of the Sun and stars. (View Less)