How fast does the Earth spin?

How fast does the Earth spin?

Lesson narration:
Scroll for prep
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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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Extensions
Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
• Activity: Earth in the Sun. On a sunny day, use a globe to show students exactly how sunlight illuminates the Earth.
• Activity: On the Move. Track the movement of sunlight on Earth with a small mirror.
• Activity: Sky Dome. Create a simple dome to model the Sun’s daily path.
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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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planet

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a large, round object in outer space that orbits a star
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axis

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an imaginary line that goes through the North Pole and South Pole of the Earth
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rotate

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to spin or turn around a central point, like the Earth around its axis
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model

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a pretend version of something that scientists use when the real thing is too big, small, or complicated to work with
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circumference

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the distance around a circle
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Lesson narration:

Activity Prep

Print Prep

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2019. Here is a link to the previous version.
In this lesson, 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
Exploration

15 mins

Hands-On Activity

Wrap-Up