Seasons and Ecliptic Simulator
The Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project, University of Nebraska
This is part of a larger lab from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln: http://astro.unl.edu/naap/motion1/motion1.html
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 12 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- If you need more information, see Student Guide dealing with the simulator and two activities that use it--Rotating Sky and Motions of the Sun--at http://astro.unl.edu/naap/motion1/motion1.html.
- Make sure to note the lack of scale to students.
About the Science
- This simulation is part of a larger lab that covers terrestrial coordinates and the celestial equatorial coordinate system, allowing users to explore the motion of the sun and how it relates to seasons.
- Comments from expert scientist: The resource gives a clear visual representation of the annual march of seasons and the plane of the ecliptic. The most helpful aspect is that the student can change the observer latitude to the latitude of interest, and select the date on the timeline. The angle of sunlight is also a useful way to visualize a concept that is often taught in a more static way. I assume that when teaching with this resource, instructors would give clear instructions, but at first glance it was not immediately obvious to me that you could drag the observer to change the latitude of observation.
About the Pedagogy
- The simulator and short investigations that are part of the lab may help users appreciate the complex dynamics of Earth's orbit as an important aspect of understanding Earth's climate.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- Easy-to-use, intuitive simulation that, with minimal guidance, can complement other activities around seasonal dynamics.
- Resource requires Flash to run - check your Flash settings if you don't see anything on the site.
- You can also download the SWF file and open with a flash player using this link: http://astro.unl.edu/naap/motion1/animations/seasons_ecliptic.swf