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Seasons Greetings

PBS Teachers, Thirteen, Educational Broadcasting Company, INC

This activity uses a hands-on kinesthetic introduction, video segments from the Nature program Earth Navigators, and interactives to explain what causes Earth's seasons and seasonal changes. Different cities on the globe are used as examples to show how seasonal changes affect each city. As a culminating activity, students learn about seasonal milestones using video segments.

Activity takes two class periods. Additional materials necessary – possibly projector if video is shown to class.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Axial tilt of Earth governs incoming sunlight and seasonality
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1c
Sun is primary energy
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Sun is primary energy

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The number of hours of daylight and the intensity of the sunlight both vary in a predictable pattern that depends on how far north or south of the equator the place is. This variation explains why temperatures vary over the course of the year and at different locations.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Because the earth turns daily on an axis that is tilted relative to the plane of the earth's yearly orbit around the sun, sunlight falls more intensely on different parts of the earth during the year. The difference in intensity of sunlight and the resulting warming of the earth's surface produces the seasonal variations in temperature.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The seasonal interactive notes that the animation is not to scale. Teachers should reinforce the idea of scale and ask some probing questions to reveal the differences between the scale in the interactive and the scale of the solar system in reality.
  • Assessment is not provided; the teacher may check for understanding by having students describe a particular place/time as a share-pair activity in order to predict the length of day and the temperature.

About the Science

  • Students use video segments and an interactive to develop an understanding of the relationship between seasons, temperature, the tilt of the earth, rotation, and revolution.
  • Educators should be alert to how the Seasons Interactive visual may help perpetuate the common misconception that seasons are caused by distance from the Sun, not by the tilt of the Earth on its axis.
  • Data for the Seasons Interactive is provided for the temperature of each city in different seasons. The concepts will hold even if the temperature for each city changes.
  • The source of the data is not given.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students move from a concrete kinesthetic activity exploring the relationship between seasons and tilt of the earth to a more sophisticated conceptual understanding by using a interactive.
  • Instructions are clear and worksheets are provided that support student learning.
  • The lesson is easy to use. Graphics are simple but effective.
  • The Teacher's Guide is well-done.
  • This is an activity that is appropriate for middle school or used as an introduction at higher levels.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Ease of use is excellent.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Other CLEAN selected resources relating to seasonal change include the AAAS Science NetLinks Reason for the Seasons: http://cleanet.org/resources/41829.html

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