Science Shorts: The Reasons for the Seasonsby: Julie Lee Lambert and Suzanne Smith Sundburg

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Ask a fifth-grader why he or she believes Earth has seasons, and the answer usually involves a mistaken notion about Earth’s distance from the Sun. However, the construction of a three-dimensional model of the changing seasons using simple materials has been successful in correcting students’ misinterpretation of the cause of the seasons (Lambert and Ariza 2008). In this lesson, students employ a simple model to learn how Earth’s tilt and revolution around the Sun causes our seasons.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:53 PM

One of the biggest misconceptions children have is why Earth has seasons. This article gives directions for having children construct an inexpensive and practical model. The ability to manipulate the model allows students confront and correct their misconceptions, essential to building correct understanding. Suggestions for assessment and extensions are included. If you are struggling to teach seasons to your students, try this activity that follows the 5E cycle.

Patty McGinnis
Patty McGinnis

  • on Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:19 AM

This article shows an easy to make model that helps students to understand the real reason for the seasons. You just need some styrofoam and toothpicks.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Fri May 11, 2012 9:17 AM

Students in upper elementary grade build a model of the sun’s position in reference to the Earth to explain why the Earth has seasons. This model is designed to correct a misconception about this concept. The extension to this activity suggests building a sundial and then an astrolabe to measure the length of shadows. This is not a new approach to understanding the reason for seasons but more needs to be done to further explain this. A more correct representation of the Earth’s orbit around the sun is needed as well.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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