Science Sampler: Eratosthenes visits middle school—Assessing the ability of students to work with models of the Earthby: Sergio Torres and Judith L. Powers

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In the exciting, “out of this world” activity described here, students measure the Earth using meter sticks while measuring their shadows in two distant locations. To obtain the size of the Earth, students discover the connection between the measurements of the shadows and a model of the spherical Earth following the method developed by Eratosthenes. In the process, students learned about the history of science and the value of collaborating with students in an international setting, and appreciated the fact that a complex and large object such as our planet can be measured using simple geometric concepts.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:03 AM

Students in middle school recreate an ancient experiment original done by a Greek to demonstrate that the Earth was round and not flat. This activity is a good example of using a model. Working with another school doing the same thing on the same longitudinal line measurements were taken and analyzed. This project included collaboration, geometry and extensions from real time data.

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

  • on Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:30 PM

In this article, the author outlines a lesson that enables students to calculate the Earth's circumference. The author includes visual aids and step by step instructions detailing how students will conduct this experiment. In addition to explaining the activity, the author includes potential learning extensions. This lesson engages students in learning the history of science and can be cross-curricularly tied to geography and geometry. I look forward to using this lesson in my classroom in the upcoming school year!

Maureen Stover  (Seaside, CA)
Maureen Stover (Seaside, CA)

  • on Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:55 PM

The article describes how two teachers partnered for students to perform Eratosthenes measurement. The article goes through the steps the teachers went through in addition to providing suggestions for improvement. This activity is a great activity because it has students "checking" the results of a historical experiment by replicating it.(as close as they could). It also has technology integration in that the school worked with another school 3000+ km away.

Susan German  (Hallsville, MO)
Susan German (Hallsville, MO)

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