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Spaceship Earth Unit Share
Mystery 1 of 8
How fast does the Earth spin?
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IMPORTANT NOTE

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2019.

Click here to see the previous version.

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DISCUSS:

How do we know the Earth is moving, and not the Sun?

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DISCUSS:

How fast is the Earth spinning? (How many miles or kilometers an hour?)

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You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
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Activity: Earth in the Sun

Position a globe so that light from the Sun shines on it in just the same way that sunlight shines on the Earth. As the Earth spins, the boundaries between “day” and “night” will move steadily across both your globe and the Earth. Follow these instructions to position your globe.

Over the course of the day, compare the light on your globe to the light shown on this interactive map.

A more detailed version of this activity can be found at Earth Learning Ideas.

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Activity: On the Move

To track the movement of sunlight on Earth, you need a windowsill in the sun, a small mirror, and sticky notes. Place the mirror on the windowsill so that it reflects sunlight onto a wall. Write the time on a sticky note and place it in the spot of light.

Have students predict where the spot of light will be in 15 minutes and mark that spot with a sticky note. While you wait to see if the prediction is right, have students discuss why they chose the spot they did.

As the Earth turns, the angle of the sunlight on the mirror changes and the spot of light moves.

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Video: Sunrise and Sunset

Use these time-lapse videos of sunrise and sunset to review what students know. Here are some discussion questions: * Why does it look like the Sun is moving? * Which way would you face to look in the direction of the Sun in the morning? In the middle of the day? In the afternoon? * Do any other objects in the sky seem to move in the same way as the Sun? Explain. * Does the Sun really move this fast? Why do you think it looks like it's moving fast in the video?

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Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Day, Night, & Earth's Rotation
Print Prep
Activity Prep

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2019. Here is a link to the previous version.
In this Mystery, students come to understand that the setting sun isn’t moving, the Earth is spinning. In the activity, Spinning Earth, students use their bodies as a kinesthetic model of the Earth to understand how the speed of the Earth’s spin affects the length of a day.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Crayons
One needs to be yellow to color the Sun and the other should be a dark color such as purple, blue, or black. Colored pencils or markers will also work.
Details
60 crayons
Scissors
30 pairs
Sticker Labels (1" x 3")
Tape also works. We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom.
Details
120 labels
Earth Map printout Print 30 copies
Sun Model printout Print 15 copies
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students will need a partner for the activity.

All students will be standing up and spinning in place throughout the activity with a place to view their paper Sun model. We find that placing the Sun model on a desk and standing about a foot behind the desk works well.

If you have a lamp or bright light, you can also use this as a model for the Sun. Just remind students NOT to look directly at the bulb.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Day, Night, & Earth's Rotation
Extensions