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Spaceship Earth    Mystery 1

Mystery 1 image

In this Mystery, students come to understand that the setting sun isn’t moving, the Earth is spinning.

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2019. If you've prepped prior to that date, we suggest using the previous version.

How fast does the Earth spin?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 6)

IMPORTANT NOTE

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2019.

If you've prepped for the activity prior to that date, we suggest using the previous version.

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Beginning Exploration (2 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (3 of 6)

DISCUSS:

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

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Beginning Exploration (4 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 6)

DISCUSS:

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

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Beginning Activity Prep
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Activity: Spinning Earth
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 6)
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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

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

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Optional Extras

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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Extra Activity

Have each student make a sky dome, an activity which lets them practice mapmaking skills and model the path of the Sun across the sky.

Supplies

  • 1 half of a transparent sphere (order single or order 12 spheres, 24 halves) - The spheres we linked to are Christmas ornaments which easily snap into two parts. We recommend you get these exact ones. Similar spheres may also be available in stores such as Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart.

    Alternatively, if you would like to save money you can also stop by a gas station that sells frozen drinks (e.g. Slurpees or ICEEs) and grab one dome lid for each student (picture of lids)
  • 2 yellow sticky notes
  • 1 piece of 4.5" x 4.5" card stock
  • 1 small binder clip (3/4" size or larger)
  • Dry erase marker
  • Tissues
  • Pen

Instead of drawing a map of the classroom, students could draw a map of their bedroom or floor plan of their house as a homework assignment.