Kinesthetic Astronomy Teaching the Daily, Yearly, & Seasonal Cycles Tom Hooten Director, Hudnall Planetarium
Intro • Developed by Dr. Cheri Morrow and Michael Zawaski • Space Science Institute • Inquiry-based, sensory experience • Field tested • Intended for grades 6 and up, but can be tailored to some earlier grades.
Prerequisite skills & knowledge • Has observed daily motion of the sun • Knows the location of earth’s poles & equator • Has observed that sun is higher in the sky during summer & lower during winter. • Knows the difference between a star and a planet. • Knows there are 360 degrees in a circle and can estimate 45 degrees and 90 degrees.
Specific Learning Goals • Explain a proper size & distance scale for sun, earth, & nearest star. • Explain the astronomical meanings of rotation as spin and revolution as orbit. • Explain why Sun appears to rise in east & set in west. • Demonstrate why we see different constellations throughout the year. • Understand why people in US see the same stars as people in China but at different times of day. • Demonstrate constant tilt of earth’s axis toward Polaris results in seasonal variations.
This activity includes props. • Includes written assessments. • 1 pre • 1 post • 14 embedded • Requires space to form a circle. • Time to Implement: 3-6 hours • Well matched with TEKS. • Is a holistic approach to celestial cycles. • Holistic: is the idea that the properties of a system cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its components alone.
Kinesthetic Astronomy available FREE online at http://www.spacescience.org/education/ extra/kinesthetic_astronomy/index.html
Grapefruit represents the Sun • How big would Earth be? • About the size of the ball of a ball point pen • How far away would Earth be on this scale? • About 50 feet away from the grapefruit • What is the next closest star to the Sun? • The alpha Centauri system (Proxima Centauri) • How far away is alpha Centauri? • 4.3 Light Years • On our scale model how far to the next grapefruit? • About 2500 miles
Your body represents the earth. • The sun is in the middle of the circle. • The zodiac constellations are outside the circle. • Is this set up of Earth-Sun and stars to scale? • Is Earth as large as our bodies compared to the Sun? • Are the stars this close to the Sun and Earth?
Point to your North Pole. • Point to your South Pole. • Where is the equator? • What hemisphere is above the equator? • What hemisphere is below the equator? • Where is North America? • Where is South America? • What is on the other side of the Earth from North America? • Where is Australia? • Which hand is your eastward hand? • Which hand is your westward hand?
How does the Sun appear to move in the sky? • Face toward our sun. • What time would it be along a line that runs down the middle of the front of you? • Why is it midday? • The line that runs north-south, midway between your east and west is called your meridian. • When the Sun is directly out in front of you at noon, it is “on your meridian.” • If the Sun is on your meridian, what time of day is it?
Face directly away from the sun. • Is the Sun on your meridian? • What time is it at your meridian? • What do you see on your meridian? • What time is it along a line that runs along the middle of your back? • What would people there see in the sky? • Rotate 12 hours. • Rotate 24 hours. • Did you rotate in the correct direction?
Face the sun again. • With arms held to your sides, look down along your “E” arm. • The person to your left is “low in the east.” • The person to your right is “low in the west.” • What is visible at any given time is what is above your horizon, between “E” & “W”.
Make a 90 degree turn toward east. • What is low in your east? • What is low in your west? • What time of day is this when the Sun is low in your west? • Why is this called sunset? • Why does the sun disappear in the west? • Does the sun set at the same time everyday of the year?
Which way does the Earth turn so the Sun appears to set in the west and rise in the east? • Go to sunset. • What time is it? • Go to midnight. • What do you see in the sky? • Go to sunrise. • What do you see in the sky? • What time of day is this?
What do we call this turning of Earth that causes the sun to rise and set? • How long does it take Earth to rotate around one time? • The amount of time it takes for the Earth to rotate once is called the “rotational period”. • One Earth Rotation is One Day
Rotate to noon. • Rotate 45 degrees toward the east. • Is it before or after noon? • Is it before or after sunset? • Is the sun in the eastern or the western sky? • What time of day is it?
Go to 3 am. • Is it before or after midnight? • Is it before or after sunrise? • Go to 3 pm. • What is the time along a line down the middle of your back, say in China? • What is today’s date in the US at 3 pm? • What would be the date in central China where it is 3 am?
Rotate to noon. • What do we call the patterns of stars in the night sky? • What are some examples of constellations? • Between what times of day do we see stars other than the sun? • Will the stars and constellations appear to rise and set?
Rotate to just past sunset. • Look at a constellation visible in your nighttime sky. • Slowly rotate to midnight and stop. • What happened to your chosen constellation? • Where is your constellation now? • Do stars appear to rise and set? • Do the stars really move? • Why do the stars appear to rise and set?
Have you been rotating straight up and down? • Is that how Earth rotates? • What is Earth’s axis tilted toward? • Polaris, the North Star, about 500 LY away • How much is Earth’s axis tilted? • 23.5 degrees
Face the sun. • Tilt your earth body toward Polaris. • Does everyone look like they are tilted the same? • Rotate to sunset and pause. • Rotate to midnight and pause. • Rotate to sunrise and pause. • Rotate back to noon. • How much time does it take Earth to rotate once?
Who has a birthday today? • How many trips around the Sun have you made in your life? • A trip around the sun is called an orbit. • An orbit is sometimes called a revolution. • What is the shape of the Earth’s orbit? • How many times does Earth rotate around its axis during one orbit around the sun? • How long does it take Earth to orbit the sun?
Which way does Earth orbit around the sun? • Hint: After the New Year, you would see Taurus in the night sky • Hint: Later in the year you would see Leo in the night sky. • Hint: Still later you would see Scorpio in the night sky. • What is Earth’s orbital period? • How many rotations occur during one orbital period? • Now make one year happen!
Return to local noon. • Is everyone still tilted toward Polaris? • Who has their upper body (Northern Hemisphere) leaning most directly toward the Sun? • What time of year is it when Earth is at this position in its orbit? • This is the time of the summer solstice; the first day of summer in N hemisphere. • This person is Mr./Ms. Summer.
Who has their upper body (Northern Hemisphere) leaning most away from the Sun? • What time of year is it when Earth is at this position in its orbit? • This is the time of the winter solstice; the first day of winter in N hemisphere. • This is Mr./Ms. Winter
What is the time at Mr./Ms. Summer’s meridian? • What is the season in North America? • What is the date in North America? • What is the season in South America? • What is the date in South America? • What is the time in China? • What is the date in China? • What is the season in China? • What is the season in Australia?
Mr./Ms. Winter rotate to midnight. • Is the Northern Hemisphere of Mr./Ms. Winter closer to the Sun than their Southern Hemisphere? • Do you remember that our model is not to scale? • If Earth is the tip of a pen 50 feet away from the grapefruit-sized Sun, is tilting the pen tip going to make one part of it significantly closer to the Sun than any other part?
Does Mr./Ms. Winter have to look higher or lower in the sky to see the Sun? • Have you noticed that we have fewer daylight hours in the winter compared to the summer? • Can you explain this observation?
What makes winter different from summer? • Winter: colder, fewer daylight hours, sun lower • Why is it colder in winter and warmer in summer? • Does distance from the sun cause it to be warmer in summer? • If Earth’s seasons have nothing to do with distance from the sun, what is it about the tilt that causes it to be colder in winter and warmer in summer?
When the northern hemisphere is leaning away from the Sun, do you have to look higher or lower to see the noontime sun? • If the sun appears lower at noon will it spend more or less time in the sky during the day? • If the sun spends less time in the sky will we have more or fewer daylight hours? • If we have fewer daylight hours, will there be more or less time to heat Earth’s surface? • So will the temperature be warmer or colder?
Shine the flashlight toward the Northern Hemisphere then the Southern Hemisphere. • What is different about the way the light appears on each hemisphere? Length of days … Angle of rays … Nothing to do with how far away!
Extensions: • Locate the equinoxes and everyone’s birthday. • Difference between solar day and sidereal day • What does it mean to be a “Leo”? • The night sky at various locations on Earth. • Who can see Orion when? • Comparing Mars & Earth seasons.
Assessment: • 1 pre-test, 1 post-test, 14 embedded tests • About how much (out of 360 degrees) does Earth move in orbit in one day? Explain. • What time of year do we experience more daylight hours? Why? • Do we see the same stars in winter as in summer? • Why is it warmer in summer than in winter?
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