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Earth's Seasons

Rochester Museum and Science Center, Strasenburgh Planetarium

A computer animation on the reason for the seasons. Voice-over describes the motion of Earth around the sun to show how the sun's light impacts the tilted Earth at different times of the year, causing seasonal changes.

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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

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

  • A good video to show after doing a physical seasons modeling activity, for example CLEAN selected resource "Reason for the Seasons": http://cleanet.org/resources/41829.html
  • A summary or guide of what learners should observe in the animation would be helpful to provide to students.
  • There is background material at http://www.rmsc.org/StrasenburghPlanetarium/InfoForTeachers/Programs/CelestialSphere/
  • Emphasize that the orbit of the Earth around the sun is only slightly eliptical.
  • Highlight that on the Spring and Autumn equinox, night and day are equal no matter where on the planet one is– 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.
  • Emphasize that the tilt of Earth does not change throughout the year as it orbits the Sun.

About the Science

  • The visual mentions that the icons for the Sun and Earth are not to scale in the animation.
  • The visual does a good job of showing the reorientation of the star field when the point of view is changed. The motion of other inner planets and Mars is also included.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The graphics are clear and attractive.

About the Pedagogy

  • An important feature of this video is its clear indication of when the animation is stopped and when the perspective is changed. This should help students understand the spatial relationships involved.
  • The animation notes the orientation of Earth's axial tilt is aligned with the North Pole toward the North Star.
  • This animation is part of the Rochester Museum and Science Center - Strasenburgh Planetarium's school program "Celestial Sphere" (http://www.rmsc.org/StrasenburghPlanetarium/InfoForTeachers/Programs/CelestialSphere/).

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The technical quality of this animation is high and scales well for classroom projection.

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