How Can You Make A Sundial?

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SWBAT make a model to show the effect of Earth's movements.

Big Idea

How did man first learn to measure time? Investigate to find out. If the sun is shining, you don't need a watch because the Sun makes an excellent clock.

Bell Ringer - Sundials

5 minutes


Before viewing the video:

I ask student to prepare a Sundial Foldable. Students should fold, cut, and glue the template into their Science Journal (Notebook). Keeping a foldable in the Science Journal is good practice for students because notes and information are kept in one place. It's easy to access and find. Students understand the importance of information in the journal while learning to write and draw their ideas in one place. To create a focus for the video, I review these questions with the class and ask students to write a response on their foldable.

Why would you use a sundial?

Draw a sundial.

How do you use a sundial?

After viewing the video:

I ask students to take 2 minutes to finish writing and drawing in the foldable. Next, I ask students to Turn and Talk with their partner to discuss their answers. This is an important strategy to build student knowledge and confidence. Then I take 1 minute and ask students to share answers with the class. To include all students in the discussion, I use popsicle sticks. This is a fair, unbiased strategy which gives equal opportunity for students to share responses. Some answers I am looking for include:

A sundial is used to tell time. A sundial show s the effects of Earth's movements.

To use a sundial , you look at the shadow of the line. The sundial was divided into 3 equal parts. Later is was divided into 12 equal parts. It pointed north.

How Can You Make A Sundial?

30 minutes

How Can You Make A Sundial?

Patterns exist everywhere (CCC#1). In nature, patterns exist in repeating events. Once patterns are notices, they should lead to (SP#1) questions. Students look at patterns to identify cause and effect relationships (sun creates shadows) (CCC#2) because patterns describe phenomena which can be used as evidence.

In this investigation, students ask questions (SP#1), develop and use a model (SP#2) of a sundial, carry out investigations (SP#3) to collect data about the performance of a proposed tool (sundial) under a range of conditions. Students learn that (CCC#4) models can be used to represent systems and their interactions (Sun & Earth). Students work towards mastery of MS-ESS 1-1 develop and use a model of the Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe cyclical patterns.

I provide a copy of the investigation How Can You Make A Sundial? At this point in the year, I ask students go through the steps in the scientific method with their partner because they need to be more independent. I ask them to read the question (step#1) and research (step#2) in their small group. I ask students to take a Vocab Minute as they read the research. A Vocab Minute is one strategy I created where students take one minute and use a highlighter to identify key vocabulary terms from the research section such as Sun, Earth, and horizon. This strategy builds vocabulary skills and content knowledge. Then, students should move onto write a hypothesis (step #3) and discuss their thoughts with their partner. Sharing ideas and thoughts is valuable for students to develop their thinking. Students then read the materials and procedure (step#4), gather supplies, and create their model of a sundial. As students work, they should (MP#4) model with mathematics as they measure, (MP#5) use appropriate tools (compass) strategically, and (MP#6) attend to precision as they make a model of a sundial. As students are working, I circulate the classroom to assess their understanding of the process and clarify any misconceptions.

PCRR: Present, Critique, Reflect, Refine

15 minutes

PCRR: A Consensus Model

This strategy can be found in a BetterLesson on Consensus Models. I ask student to use the PCRR Strategy Organizer model: Present, Critique, Reflect, Refine, with their model of a sundial. As students present their model to peers, peers take 60 seconds to critique the model and ask questions. Then students record the critique and questions for reflection. Then students can go back and refine their model. As a class, I go through this model with each group of students to practice the process. It's a valuable experience and offers opportunity for students to review and reflect on a peer's work. The PCRR consensus model provides guidance for students to learn to (SP#8) communicate information in discussion with scientific peers.

Students Using PCRR to Present Model of Sundial


5 minutes

I learned that . . . because . . .

Now, let's write a conclusion. As with any investigation, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but that ok. This provides opportunity to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and changes that could be made. This step is very important for students to "come full circle."

I have learned that you need to take students back to the question so they can think about the process "How Can You Make A Sundial?" Take 1-2 minutes for students to process this question and write a conclusion. I give them a sentence starter to write a conclusion because it adds rigor to the writing and helps with the process, for example:  I learned that . . .because. . .  Take 1 minute to share answers with the class so students can hear other student thoughts. Some appropriate answers would be: 

I learned that it is not that easy to make a sundial because you have to be precise and accurate when measuring.

I learned that a sundial will show the effects of the Earth's movements because the dial (pole) will cast a shadow as the Earth moves around the Sun.