December brings the winter solstice, the day with

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1 Activities inspired by children s literature Sunrise, Sunset, and Shadows By Christine Anne Royce December brings the winter solstice, the day with the shortest amount of sunlight for the northern hemisphere. Students can notice the pattern of days getting darker earlier across the United States up to this point and then notice as the amount of sunlight starts to increase in the following months. Through making observations and collecting data about sunrise and sunset, students can begin to develop an understanding of the Earth s place in relationship to the Sun. This Month s Trade Books Synopsis Sun Up, Sun Down By Gail Gibbons ISBN: Voyager Books 32 pages Grades K 4 This book provides an overview of many different ideas related to the Sun, ranging from the apparent movement of the Sun in the sky as the day goes from dawn to dusk to how shadows are formed to how sunlight helps living things on Earth. Synopsis Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights By Debbie S. Miller Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle ISBN: Walker and Company 32 pages Grades 3 5 Different animals are featured in this story as Fairbanks, Alaska, is used to provide the basis for examining the drastic variations in the amount of sunlight different locations on Earth receives. In addition to the amount of sunlight being extreme, the book highlights one of the results of that phenomenon, which is that this area also has great temperature extremes throughout the year. Curricular Connections Within the first activity and through the reading of Sun Up, Sun Down, students collect data that can be used to make comparisons and use [these] observations to describe patterns in the natural world in order to answer scientific questions (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 14). Through both activities, students make their own observations of shadows and the amount of daylight through using available media and previously collected data. Then students are able to [m]ake observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 14). Older students are able to take information about the time of sunrise, sunset, and amount of daylight Fairbanks, Alaska, receives to [r]epresent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 49). The ability to display available data in a graphical representation and research data for their own location allows students to analyze and interpret data, thus allowing them to visualize the relationships associated with the amount of daylight in a location and the season or time of the year, and in the case of Fairbanks, Alaska, the impact on the average temperature. In the explain phase, helping students to connect the amount of daylight with the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun will aid students in better understanding the observable patterns. Finally, by using the Alaska location, their own location, and a location closer to the equator, students are able to see how latitude affects the amount of daylight received and the resultant pattern. Christine Anne Royce is a professor at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. 16 Science and Children

2 Grades K 2: My Shadow From the Sun Purpose Students investigate how the location of a light source affects shadows. Students will track their own shadow at different points in the day to make observations. Materials Sun Up, Sun Down student data sheet (see NSTA Connection) flashlight per pair of students small solid object (e.g., stack of blocks, candle, soda can) sidewalk chalk compass to locate south Engage Ask the students if they have ever seen their shadow when they were outside on a sunny day and to describe what they have seen. Many comments will focus on how the shadow seems to get bigger or smaller at points, or that it follows the student. Have the students watch the What causes a shadow video up to the 2:46 point (see Internet Resources). Ask the students to think about what the characters stated: that the Sun causes a shadow when someone is outside. Explore Read Sun Up, Sun Down to the students and stop at the appropriate pages to ask questions. The page where the girl is out of bed and pointing at the floor: Has anyone seen patterns on your floor made by the Sun like that? What are these patterns called? The pages where the girl and the cat are running in summer and winter: Look at the shadows in the pictures and the position of the Sun. Where are the cat and the girl located in relationship to the Sun and the shadow? (They are between the Sun and the shadow.) The pages where the girl and the cat are standing with their back to the Sun: What happens to the girl s shadow when the Sun is directly overhead? The pages where Sun is almost set and girl s shadow is much longer: What happens to the length of the girl s shadow when the Sun is setting or closer to the horizon? After reading the book, ask pairs of students to investigate how shadows are created using a flashlight to represent the Sun and a small object. Ask them to create shadows that represent the types of shadows the young girl saw in the story. Specifically, ask them to recreate the scenes where the girl s shadow is very long (Sun low in the sky at the end of the book), shorter (when the girl is running), and nonexistent (when the Sun was directly overhead) (CC ELA: Reading Standards for Informational Texts K 5 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas). Allowing students to manipulate the flashlight to represent the Sun will help them understand that the location of the Sun in the sky is the reason for the different lengths of the shadows. The story helps students understand that a shadow occurs when an object gets between the Sun and the surface of the Earth. Explain Using the student data sheet, ask the students to illustrate each shadow length when the flashlight is held near the edge of the table, directly above the object, and in between the table and directly overhead. Have the students explain how each illustration they drew from their investigation is similar to the girl s shadow in the book (CC ELA: Reading Standards for Informational Texts K 5 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas). Elaborate Using classroom volunteers or parents to help, take the students outside to an area on a playground where they can use sidewalk chalk. Students will work in pairs and this activity will be repeated three times during the school day first thing in the morning, midday when the Sun is at December

3 directly at the Sun. Record the time in the shadow. Repeat for the different partner and then repeat at the remaining two points in a day. If traced correctly, students will be able to see the length of the shadow vary based on the time of the day and also the movement of the shadow due to the apparent movement of the Sun in the sky from east to west. If the students are facing south, east is at their left, meaning the first shadow will be to their right and will move behind them and to their left throughout the day. Students should record how their shadow changed during the day after making observations. Evaluate its highest point, and once at the very end of the day. Ask them to work with their partner and take turns outlining their own shadows. Select one direction for the students to face, such as south, and have them stand there while their partner identifies their shadow. Using the sidewalk chalk, the partner should trace the shadow on the ground and then also note where the Sun in the sky is in relation to the shadow. Remind students they should never look Through questions during the short video introduction and the reading of the text, you will be able to develop initial understanding of what students know and think about shadows as well as their understanding of how the shadow changes based on the position of the Sun in the sky. Students are also asked to illustrate their understanding of shadow length based on light source position using their data sheets. Finally, in the elaborate section, students are asked to use the evidence from their own shadow to explain their observations about the movement of the shadow over time. Connecting to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013): 1-ESS1 Earth s Place in the Universe Science and Engineering Practice Planning and Carrying Out Investigations Disciplinary Core Idea ESS1.A The Universe and Its Stars Patterns of the motion of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, and predicted (1-ESS1-1). Crosscutting Concept Patterns Connections to Classroom Activity Students: manipulate a flashlight to create shadows of different lengths similar to the ones in the story. trace their partner s shadow to determine how their shadows change throughout the day. trace their partner s shadow to determine how their shadows change throughout the day. observe that their shadow gets shorter as they move toward noon and then longer again. observe that their shadow gets shorter as they move toward noon and then longer again. observe that when facing south, their shadow moves from their right to their left throughout the day representing the apparent movement of the sun from east to west. 18 Science and Children

4 Grades 3 5: Changing Amounts of Daylight Purpose Students will create a graph that shows the relationship between the amount of daylight a region receives to the season of the year. Materials Artic Lights, Arctic Nights student data sheet (see NSTA Connection) globe piece of modeling clay straw model of the Sun chart paper for table graph for student use drawing materials computers with internet access Engage Using a globe, locate Fairbanks, Alaska, and the North Pole to help students understand the context for the location they will be discussing. Using some modeling clay and a twoinch straw, mark the location of Fairbanks so that it is easy to see. Set up a model of the Earth/Sun system with Fairbanks, tilted away from the Sun (representing winter) and allow the students to make observations about the model; then show the students the video of the winter solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska. Then, reverse where the northern hemisphere is placed in the model by moving the Earth to the other side of the Sun so that Fairbanks is now titled toward the Sun. Show the second video of the Summer Solstice at the North Pole. After watching each, ask them to make observations of what happens to the Sun in each video to include information about how high in the sky it appears. Are there any patterns that appear in the video of the summer solstice? Also ask them to think about the position of the Earth in the model and the tilt of the northern hemisphere and connect it to the videos. Both videos are time lapsed and the amount of time is increased. In the winter solstice video, the entire amount of time the Sun is up is three hours and 49 minutes, whereas in the summer solstice video, it is clear that the Sun never sets or dips below the horizon as several days time is shown. Ask students to state their current understandings related to the temperature at the North Pole. Many students have the misconception that the North Pole is always cold since so many pictures include snow, ice, and glaciers. Explore Begin to read the story to the students and ask them to listen not only to the information about the animals but also to key information about the days or nights or temperature that is described on each page as well. After going through the book once, return to each page to re-read to the students to complete the information in the table on their own student data sheet with the relevant information related to the date, length of daylight, time for sunrise and sunset, and the average high and low and what is happening to the days or the importance of a certain date (CC ELA: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas). See table example below. By having students extract the relevant data from the text, they are beginning to collect evidence from print sources that they will represent in a graphical format and connect the key vocabulary to the information such as sunrise, sunset, length of daylight, winter solstice, summer solstice, fall equinox, and spring equinox (CC ELA: Vocabulary Acquisition). Ask the students to also identify what season it is for each of the months they have noted, helping to connect the idea that there are observable and predictable patterns associated with these characteristics and the seasons in the northern hemisphere. After students have included the seasons, ask them to explain what patterns they note about the amount of daylight and the seasons (CC ELA: Reading Standards for Informational Texts K 5 Key Ideas and Details). Explain Once the information has been collected, tell the students that they are going to create graphs that represent the amount of sunlight received on each of these days. (Note to teacher, for ease in representing the information, individual discrete pieces of information related to the Example table Date Sunrise Sunset Length of Daylight June 21 1:58 a.m. 11:47 p.m. 21 hours 49 minutes Average High Average Low Notes From Text 72 F 52 F On the summer solstice, the top of the world tilts towards the sun. Longest day of the year. There is no darkness. December

5 amount of sunlight on each day will be used and thus a bar graph or pictograph is appropriate.) First, they are asked to round off the amount of sunlight to a whole number, so for example the amount of daylight to a whole number. This particular task can be done as a class to aid in the process. Then, using the graph on the student data sheet, ask them to graph the amount of daylight on the y axis for each of the dates identified on the x axis. The students can use either a single bar to represent the amount of daylight or create a pictograph using an appropriate picture. The resulting graph will show that as the year moves from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox and finally toward the winter solstice, the amount of daylight decreases and then begins to increase in a similar pattern as the year moves back toward a new summer solstice (CC Math: Model with Mathematics). The students can also identify which season each of these months falls in and note that on their graph also. Have the students explain their understandings to the following questions: What do you observe about the changing amount of daylight as the year moves from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice to the vernal equinox and back to the summer solstice? Using the model of the Earth/Sun, move the Earth to the proper location to represent each of the four seasons. (Note to teacher: It is easiest to have the Sun in a stationary location with four marks around it representing the location of the Sun for the seasons. Also, take note that the students move the position of the Earth and not simply the tilt of the Earth.) What happens to the temperature in Fairbanks as the amount of daylight increases or decreases? Can you give a reason why this happens? Elaborate Recreate a table for your own location similar to the one for Fairbanks that represents only the dates identified, amount of daylight, and the notes section. Using the amount of daylight calculator from the U.S. Naval Observatory, locate your own city using the online calculator (see Internet Resources). Again, have the students record the actual amount of daylight and then round off to a designated interval. Depending on where you live, you may want to use quarter hours instead of full hours to help show the difference as the time each month changes. Have the students again address the first two questions above with their new data chart (CC ELA: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas). Older students can also pick a third location that is at a different latitude than their current location and preferably closer to the equator (CC Math: Model with Mathematics). Also, instead of leaving a marker on the globe in Fairbanks, Alaska, have the students move it to the location selected for examination of a second point. Now ask the students to create a new graph for that location using the same method as they did for Fairbanks and answer the following: Can you make a comparison to the amount of daylight your location receives on each day identified compared to Fairbanks? When you look at the graph from Fairbanks and your individual graph(s), can you explain any pattern about the amount of daylight? Evaluate Evaluation of student understanding is done during their initial statements, which may help to illustrate their prior knowledge and/or misconceptions as well as throughout the formative questions and creation of their graphs. Students should be able to explain that the amount of daylight increases as we approach the summer solstice and decreases as we approach the winter solstice for the northern hemispheres. Also, the more daylight a region receives, the higher the temperature is for that region. Finally, students should be able to accurately demonstrate where the Earth is in its orbit around the Sun for the solstices and equinoxes and how that affects the amount of daylight a region receives. References National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers (NGAC and CCSSO) Common Core State Standards. Washington, DC: NGAC and CCSSO. National Research Council (NRC) A framework for K 12 science education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. NGSS Lead States Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Internet Resources U.S. Naval Observatory Daylight Calculator What causes a shadow? NSTA Connection Download the student data sheets, a blank graph, and a list of additional resources at SC Science and Children

6 Connecting to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013): 5-ESS1 Earth s Place in the Universe Science and Engineering Practices Analyzing and Interpreting Data Engaging in Argument From Evidence Disciplinary Core Idea ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. Crosscutting Concept Patterns Connections to Classroom Activity Students: interpret their graphs to answer questions about what happens to the amount of daylight toward and away from the solstices. provide an explanation for the relationship between the amount of daylight received in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the average temperature based on the graph created. create a graphical representation of the amount of daylight in three locations to compare and contrast the pattern. use a model to represent the position of the Earth during the solstices and equinoxes and connect the model to their explanation of what is happening with the amount of daylight and temperature in different regions. explain the pattern that as the Earth moves toward the summer solstice, the northern hemisphere receives more daylight and as we move toward the winter solstice, the amount of daylight decreases. explain the patterns they observe related to the amount of daylight for a region, how the amount of daylight affects the temperature, and the differences in the amount of daylight between positions near the North Pole and the Equator on the summer solstice. Connecting to the Common Core State Standards (NGAC and CCSSO 2010): This section provides the Common Core for English Language Arts and/or Mathematics standards addressed in this column to allow for cross-curricular planning and integration. The Standards state that students should be able to do the following at grade level. English/Language Arts Reading Standards for Informational Texts K 5 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Grade 1: use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas. Reading Standards for Informational Texts K 5 Key Ideas and Details Grade 4: refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Grade 5: draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently. Vocabulary Acquisition and Use is one of the standards for language. This particular standard is across grade levels. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade [appropriate] reading and content. Mathematics Model with Mathematics is a mathematical practice that is a standard across grade levels. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose. December

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