ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Shadow Plots: Length and Direction of Shadows

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jackie Smith
System: Madison City
School: Mill Creek Elementary School
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34266

Title:

Shadow Plots: Length and Direction of Shadows

Overview/Annotation:

Students will create sun shadow plots to demonstrate how the position and motion of Earth with respect to the sun causes changes in the length and direction of shadows. Students will observe and record shadow data for an entire day.

After collecting the data, students will analyze the data and create a line graph to determine at which time of the day the longest shadows are created.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
13 ) Analyze data and represent with graphs to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky (e.g., shadows and the position and motion of Earth with respect to the sun, visibility of select stars only in particular months).

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Place in the Universe
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Analyze data and represent with graphs to reveal the following patterns:
  • daily changes in length and direction of shadows
  • day and night
  • the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Data
  • Graph
  • Bar Graph
  • Pictograph
  • Pie Chart
  • Line Graph
  • Analyze
  • Shadow
  • Seasonal
  • Sun
  • Star
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • 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.
  • The apparent motion of the sun from east to west results in patterns of change in length and direction of shadows throughout a day as Earth rotates on its axis.
  • The length of the day gradually changes throughout the year as Earth orbits the sun, with longer days in the summer and shorter days in the winter.
  • Some stars and/or groups of stars (constellations) can be seen in the sky all year, while others appear only at certain times of the year.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Using graphical displays (e.g., bar graphs, pictographs), organize data pertaining to daily and seasonal changes caused by the Earth's rotation and orbit around the sun. Organize data that include the following:
    • The length and direction of shadows observed several times during one day.
    • The duration of daylight throughout the year, as determined by sunrise and sunset times.
    • Presence or absence of selected stars and/or groups of stars that are visible in the night sky at different times of the year.
  • Use the organized data to find and describe relationships within the datasets.
  • Use the organized data to find and describe relationships among the datasets, including the following:
    • Similarities and differences in the timing of observable changes in shadows, daylight, and the appearance of stars show that events occur at different rates (e.g., Earth rotates on its axis once a day, while its orbit around the sun takes a full year).
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Earth: Gravity and Space

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.1: Objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The Sun, for example, appears to move across the sky in the same way every day, but its path changes slowly over the seasons. The Moon appears to move across the sky on a daily basis much like the Sun.

NAEP Statement::
E8.12: Seasons result from annual variations in the intensity of sunlight and length of day, due to the tilt of Earth's rotation axis relative to the plane of its yearly orbit around the Sun.

NAEP Statement::
E8.2: Gravity is the force that keeps most objects in the solar system in regular and predictable motion. These motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the Moon, and eclipses.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.5.13- Identify patterns of change caused by the position and/or motion of the Earth.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will analyze and represent data with graphs to reveal patterns of daily change in length and direction of shadows and the position and motion of Earth, with respect to the sun.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

This activity comes from the NASA Connect Education Guide Ancient Observatories: Timeless Knowledge.

  • Gnomon (skewer)
  • large cardboard box (5-10 cm tall)
  • protractor
  • ruler
  • markers
  • glue
  • 11 x 17 sheet of paper
  • tracing paper
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • science journal or notebook
  • pencils
  • a compass
  • copies of the student handout, pages 17-19 in the Education Guide

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer or device with Internet connection

YouTube video Ancient Observatories: Timeless Knowledge part 1

Background/Preparation:

The teacher will need to be familiar with how the position and motion of Earth with respect to the sun causes changes in the length and direction of shadows.  Additional background information can be found on page 5 of the Education Guide.

The teacher also needs to understand how to find true north using the Patty Paper Method, Protractor Method, and Compass Method. Information on those methods can be found on page 13 of the Education Guide.

Create a Sun Shadow Box as shown on page 10 of the Education Guide.  This can be created ahead of time, as class, or as a small group. 

  Procedures/Activities: 

Engage:

Begin with a whole group discussion to help students activate background knowledge on shadows.  Use the questions from page 9 of Education Guide and a pencil and flashlight to facilitate the discussion.

Show the introduction video Ancient Observatories: Timeless Knowledge part 1.

Explore:

Students will make sun shadow plots by marking the ends of shadows made by the Sun and a gnomon (a stick used to cast a shadow) every half hour throughout the day. Students will observe and record how the length and position of shadows change throughout the day as a result of the Earth’s spin changing its position to the Sun.

Once students have mapped most of a school day’s worth of shadows, they will measure and record the shadow angles and lengths.

This activity needs to be conducted on a clear, sunny day in a flat area such as a parking lot or tennis court.

Place the longest edge of the box along the edge of the parking lot or along any straight line. You will need to tape the box to the ground on all 4 sides so that it does not move through the course of the day. Start observing and recording data as early as possible in the day. Send out individuals or groups to mark the location of the end of the gnomon's shadow every 30 minutes. Next to each dot, label the time that it was marked.

Students will record data on Table 1: Sun Shadow Plot Data on page 19 of the student handout.


  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

Explain:

Students will use the Angle Bisector Method of their choice or a GPS to find and verify true north. In addition students should complete discussion questions on page 20 of the student handout.

Additional assessment can come from teacher observation of student participation and completion of data charts that depict a relationship between the position and motion of Earth in relation to the sun.

Acceleration:

Extend:

Students or the teacher can create another Shadow Plot Box, using a different length gnomon than the original design.

Have students place stickers or other small objects where they predict the end of the shadow will fall at specific times throughout the day. Be sure to orient this box in the same manner as the original box.

Intervention:

ELL: The student handouts could be translated into the native language of the student. The ELL teacher can also provide assistance to students.

Students with disabilities: Students can work with a peer helper or with the pull-out teacher.


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.