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Spaceship Earth Unit
Mystery 3 of 8
How can the Sun tell you the season?
Mystery 3 image
Spaceship Earth Unit Mystery 3 of 8
How can the Sun tell you the season?
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PHOTO #1 OF 5
What season is this? Come up with more than one reason for your answer. *Hint:* Pay attention to the time on the photo.

Kid on bike

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DISCUSS AS A CLASS:

What season do you think this is? Why?

Here's what we think:

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PHOTO #2 OF 5
What season is this? Come up with more than one reason for your answer. *Hint:* Does the mist give you a clue about the temperature?

Pumpkins

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DISCUSS AS A CLASS:

What season do you think this is? Why?

Here's what we think:

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PHOTO #3 OF 5
What season is this? Come up with more than one reason for your answer. *Hint:* Pay attention to the time on the photo.

SunsetWinter

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DISCUSS AS A CLASS:

What season do you think this is? Why?

Here's what we think:

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PHOTO #4 OF 5
What season is this? Come up with more than one reason for your answer. *Hint:* Pay attention to the time on the photo.

Flower

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DISCUSS AS A CLASS:

What season do you think this is? Why?

Here's what we think:

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PHOTO #5 OF 5
CHALLENGE: What season is this? Do you have any ideas? Take a look at the time and the shadow. (If you can't figure it out, don't worry--watch the next video to get a clue!)

Bench

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Discuss: What changes did you see in the daytime sky over the course of the four seasons?

Here's what we saw...

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Discuss: Here’s the bench you saw earlier. Now can you guess what season this photo was taken? Hint: Think about the time & the shadow.

Bench

See what we think...

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PHOTO #6 OF 8: What season is it? Why do you think that?

Dog

See what we think...

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PHOTO #7 OF 8: What season is it? Why do you think that?

Shadows

See what we think...

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PHOTO #8 OF 8: What season is it? Why do you think that?

Sunsets

See what we think...

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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 activity & exploration which you just completed.
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Demonstration: Mark a Shadow

Changes in the Sun's position every day add up to big changes over months.

You can show this by marking the shadow of a stationary object at the same time of day once a week for a few weeks.

Mark the shadow of a flagpole with chalk on the blacktop or mark the shadow of the window frame with a post-it on the wall. Every week, the shadow will be in a new position.

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Extra Activity: Sky Dome, Part 2

SkyDome1

SkyDome2

Add the Sun's summer path and winter path to the Sky Dome that you made from instructions in Mystery 1 Extras.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Other
sunsent by AdinaVoicu / cropped
Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Seasonal Changes & Sun's Path
Print
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students discover how the Sun’s path changes with the seasons. In the visual activity, Guess the Season, students figure out the season of the year by studying a photo. Students come to realize that they can use the time of day and length of shadows to figure out the season in each photo. Formerly Mystery 4 in this unit. Moved to Mystery 3 on 12/31/18.

Preview activity

Prep Instructions

This activity does not require supplies.

Review Photos and Answers Before Class

Each photo has an obvious clue related to the season — like ripe pumpkins for autumn or snow for winter. Students will recognize those clues immediately.

But each photo also includes the time it was taken. Using the time and the Sun’s position, students can figure out the season using astronomical clues — like the length of the day (long in summer, short in winter) or the time of sunrise (early in summer, late in winter).

In the class discussion that follows each photo, you may need to prompt students to notice the time on the photo and think about what the time says about the season. Reviewing the questions and answers before class will help you prepare to facilitate class discussion.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Seasonal Changes & Sun's Path