SeasonsSTEP Participant home page
8(7) Earth and space. The student knows the effects resulting from cyclical movements of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. The student is expected to: (A) model and illustrate how the tilted Earth rotates on its axis, causing day and night, and revolves around the Sun causing changes in seasons.
Vocabulary/ Preliminary Concepts:
Rotation—the Earth rotates (spins) on its axis, completing one turn every 24 hours
Revolution—the Earth revolves (orbits) around the Sun, completing one orbit every year
- Rotation and Revolution bracelets can be made with chenille sticks and a bead
- Rotation and Revolution songs provided by Sarah Jones
Tilt—the Earth’s axis is tilted about 23.5 degrees compared to its orbit around the Sun
Scale of the Sun-Earth System—the Sun is about 100 times wider than the Earth, and not very close. If the Sun was a basketball, the Earth would be about the size of a pencil eraser, at 260 feet away!
Activities for Teaching Seasons
- Data Inquiry Activity: Heating Things Up
Students graph average high monthly temperatures for different cities to learn how temperatures vary by location and by season.
- Vocabulary Matching
Students can match the terms and descriptions—this can be played like a game with a short time limit, or like concentration/memory.
Students observe the sunrise and sunset positions of the Sun and its altitude in the sky over a year to connect with the Sun’s apparent motions over a year.
- Reasons for Seasons
Students explore a model of the Earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution around the Sun. There are a variety of write-ups for this activity available from different sources; another great sources is the GEMS guide Reasons for the Seasons.
- Daylight Hours
Students reinforce their understanding of seasonal dynamics by reading and graphing annual day-length data to determine the relative north or south latitude, and name, of their “mystery city.”
- Seasons Resources
Websites, activities, and materials that may be useful
These were created for use in workshops; feel free to borrow and alter the images and information for your own workshops