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MUSE | Earth-Moon-Sun Dynamics | Course Overview and Materials | Introducing Scientific Models | Course Material 1B: Sun Plot

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course material 1C: Moon Observations


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plotting point on dome imageCourse Material 1B: SUN PLOT

In this material, students gather and interpret their own data about the Sun’s apparent path across the sky. Since variations in the Sun’s apparent path can be observed over a 6-9 week time frame, this material is revisited throughout the EMS unit for a total of approximately 5 twenty minute time periods. Students’ tasks on each day vary widely and include assembling the data collecting dome, gathering data, and interpreting their data.

This material is from the Project STAR collection of teaching resources. In the Project STAR textbook, The Universe in Your Hands, this material is found on pages 6-8 and is entitled, Plotting the Apparent Daily Path of the Sun. Materials are available through Learning Technologies, Inc.:

59 Walden Street
Cambridge, MA 12140
1-800-537-8703
www.starlab.com/psgi.html

Students use a 3-dimensional cardboard-backed dome to record the Sun’s apparent path across the sky on multiple occasions (roughly three weeks apart). Taking their domes outside to a sunny location, students plot the position of a pen tip's shadow on a plastic dome at hourly intervals. This produces a series of data points that, when connected, indicate the Sun’s angular height, rise and set directions, and day length for a given day. Ultimately, students will learn that the Sun’s apparent path across the sky changes over a 6-9 week period of time and they will need to modify their EMS model to account for this new phenomenon.

Successful Completion of this Activity Involves:

  • gathering Sun position data on multiple occasions (recommended during weeks one, four, and seven)

  • making predictions

  • recognizing patterns within data

  • interpreting graphical data

  • using sun position data in conjunction with material 2F: Seasons when describing and accounting for seasonal variations


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Students will conclude this material with a plastic 3-dimensional hemisphere dome on which they have plotted a predicted Sun path and three actual paths. In addition, students will answer questions in a companion lab activity that requires them to interpret their data and relate it to their initial predictions.

 

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