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In this activity students plot the movement of the sun across the sky. As they make their own records over a period of time, they learn first hand the actual movement of the sun for their location.
Most students think the sun rises due east, passes directly overhead, and sets due west. It is a strongly held misconception that the sun is overhead at noon, regardless of the time of year. Some students also believe that there are twelve hours of daylight every day. In actuality the sun rises and sets at different points along the horizon depending on the time of year. The sun is never directly overhead north of the tropic of Cancer or south of the Tropic of Capricorn. And, in fact, it is only directly overhead for two days at locations between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
The zenith or high point of the sun is defined as local noon, but it is usually not exactly at 12 noon. How far a location is from the central meridian of the time zone (105 degrees west in the Mountain Time Zone) and daylight savings time both affect actual local noon.
1-Use science process and thinking skills
2-Manifest scientific attitudes and interests
3-Understand science concepts and principles
4-Communicate effectively using science language and reasoning
5-Demonstrate awareness of social and historical aspects of science
6-Understand the nature of science
Invitation to Learn:
Hold up a clear plastic hemisphere and show the inside of the dome. Explain that the dome represents the sky. Tell them that where the ribs meet the base, this represents the directions north, south, east, and west. Label these direction points on the dome. Give each team or pair of students a clear plastic hemisphere. Have the students label the directions. Challenge them to predict where the sunrise was that morning. Use a transparency pen or wax pencil to write an R on the spot. Have them predict where the sun will be at noon. Write an N to record their prediction. Finally have them predict the sunset. Write an S on the location. Have them connect these points with a curved line to show the sun's path. Ask them: How could you find out if they are correct?
In this activity students plot the movement of the sun across the sky. As they make their own records over a period of time, they learn first hand the actual movement of the sun for their location. Before class calculate as closely as you can the exact location of north. First use a compass to find magnetic north. To find true north you will have to adjust the magnetic north direction about 15 degrees to the left (in Utah locations) to compensate for the difference between magnetic north and true north.
This lesson is part of the Sixth Grade Science Teacher Resource Book (TRB3) http://www.usoe.org/curr/science/core/6th/TRB6/. The TRB3 is designed to be your textbook in teaching science curriculum to your students. This book covers all the objectives of each standard and benchmark. If taught efficiently, a student should do well on the End-of-Level (CRT) tests. The TRB3 is designed for teachers who know very little about science, as well as for teachers who have a broad understanding of science.