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Timely Teachings: Seasons and the Cycles of Night and Day

All web seminar participants use online tools that allow them to mark-up presenter's slides or share desktop applications in addition to engaging in chat with others online and answering poll questions This Web Seminar Presented by Jessica Fries-Gaither, in collaboration with the National Science Digital Library and The Ohio State University, took place on Thursday, December 10, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Jessica Fries-Gaither, Project Director for Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears and Education Resource Specialist at The Ohio State University started the presentation with a content review relating to the seasons. Some concepts related to seasons are hard for students to understand and lead to misconceptions. For example, students assume that the Earth’s variation in distance to the sun is why we have seasons. Relatively speaking, the Earth’s orbit is circular, although diagrams that render the Earth’s orbit as elliptical can perpetuate this misconception. It is actually the angle of incoming sunlight on the Earth’s surface that has a greater effect on seasons. Some misconceptions clear up for students as a consequence of developmental maturity. Using formative assessments such as those found in the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series can be very helpful in addressing and identifying students’ misconceptions.

Fries-Gaither also shared some online resources for both background content and teaching activities in the NSDL collection that included Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears and the Middle School Portal. The final portion of the presentation focused on literacy connections and the use of real data through online programs such as Journey North and the Global Sun Temperature Project.

Educators represented the states of California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three educators joined the program from countries outside of the United States: Canada, Spain, and Romania.

Seminar participants received one of the NSTA SciGuides. A certificate of attendance was deposited into participants My PD Record and Certificates area in the NSTA Learning Center for completing the evaluation form at the end of the program.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • “The links were especially good. While it was going on I was copying whiteboard pages to send to elementary teachers I know!”

  • “I finished teaching Seasons recently but wanted some additional tools for next year.”

  • “I teach a unit to first grade in the spring about space, and I'm excited to use some of these resources to make the unit more accessible and richer.”

  • “I am beginning lessons after break on seasons and the solar system and this was great refresher course.”


See when other NSDL/NSTA Web Seminars are scheduled.

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Underwritten by NSDL