AAAS Science NetLinks
Activity takes one to two 45-minute class periods. Additional materials are needed.Discuss this Resource»
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
Good activity for younger middle school students (grade 6).
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 1c
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks
Notes From Our Reviewers
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Assess student preconceptions by having them write them down beforehand, and after the activity return to their preconceptions and modify them.
- Instead of having students read the text material in the introductory activity “Reason for Seasons” (which gives much of the information away), direct the student action orally and have students come to their own conclusions.
- Some good follow-up lessons are suggested.
- The activity states that a common misconception regarding the seasons is not mentioned in Benchmarks for Science Literacy. It is however covered in depth in the AAAS Atlas for Science Literacy, Vol 2. Weather and Climate Map. This map and supporting maps from the Atlas can be reviewed under: http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/climate_change_guide_2061.pdf.
About the Science
- The graphic (“Cosmic Map”) shown is significantly out of scale, potentially fostering one common misconception (Earth is larger than the sun). Educators should stress that the graphic is out of scale on the diagram.
- Activity addresses common misconception about what results in seasons on Earth.
- Comment from scientist: Activity could also connect the tilt to length of day during the seasons because this also impacts how much of the sun's energy is received during different seasons; i.e. the strength of the incoming energy during the day is weaker in winter because it strikes more obliquely, but the days are also shorter. This could lead to discussion to the effect of Earth's tilt, resulting in greater extremes in seasons and amount of daylight closer to the poles than at the equator. For example, the equator has ~12 hours of daylight year round while elsewhere that occurs only at the equinoxes. Also, the north pole and south pole have 6 months of darkness followed by 6 months of daylight.
About the Pedagogy
- Activity is well laid out with good motivation piece and educator background link to Private Universe.
- Much of what goes on is teacher-centered, a series of lecture-demo pieces stitched together by some 3D modeling.
- 3D modeling part of activity is good for kinesthetic learners.
- Rubric for scoring in assessment section is good.
- Recommended extensions are good.
- Contains best practice approach to addressing student misconceptions.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
MS-ESS1.A1: Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.
MS-ESS1.B2: This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.
Science and Engineering Practices
MS-P2.5: Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.
MS-P6.2: Construct an explanation using models or representations.
MS-C1.4: Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.
MS-C2.2: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
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