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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.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea

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.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

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.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

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