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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumnal Equinox


Fall arrives in the northern hemisphere today at 20:44 UTC. I'll say, "Goodbye, summer," at 3:44 this afternoon.

How can I explain this to my students? On September 8th we talked about latitude, longitude, and the tilt of the earth. Now it's time to go a little deeper.

In preparation, I read Equal Day and Equal Night - But Not Quite by Time and Date. This site provided solid background information (to prepare me for questions my students might ask).

Next, I located a five-minute video that clearly describes how the tilt of the earth causes seasons. Cycles of Light and Temperature by Power of 10 Texas will (powerfully) explain this phenomenon to my students. Awesome!

Finally, I want my students to explore with one or more experiments. This lesson, posted by Nauticus, provides a series of experiments that demonstrate the seasons, the tilt of the earth, and day and night.
Tomorrow looks like a sunny day here in northwest Indiana, so I plan on heading outside with thermometers taped to black construction paper. Each group will prop one paper/thermometer set-up at an angle while laying another flat on the ground. Then they'll record the temperature at five, ten, and fifteen minutes. What do you predict will happen?

The autumnal equinox gives us a great reason to explore the seasons, and kids love it!