Help Build Science Skills: Sundial

Learning how to tell time is an important skill for children. For kids just learning to tell time, the sundial offers a useful opportunity to review it in a new way. Building the sundial will help children integrate the concept of time with the Earth's movements, which may then lead to a fuller understanding of time. Make sure to take the sundial outside on a sunny day for maximum effect.

What this activity will develop:
Science and thinking skills

What you'll need:
• Poster board
• Protractor
• Pen or marker
• Popsicle stick

Setting up:
Check an atlas or call the library to find the latitude for your area. Subtract that latitude from 90 degrees. (For example, 40 degrees from 90 degrees = 50 degrees.)

Use the protractor to mark an angle on the poster board that is the same number of degrees as your answer. Draw a line from the corner of the board through the mark. Then draw lines to form a rectangle.

Label the angles within the rectangle.

Cut along the lines to make two triangles.

Cut a rectangle from the remaining poster board.

Center the protractor on a long side of the rectangle, and outline the protractor's outer edge.

Mark each 15-degree interval around the outer edge of the protractor.

Draw lines through each mark and label them. Starting at the bottom left, label the lines 6 through 12 (the line in the middle of the dial will be 12). On the right side, after the 12, label the lines 1 through 5.

Punch a hole where the lines meet on the dial face, and poke a Popsicle stick through the hole at a 90-degree angle.

Glue the triangles to the back of the sundial with the labeled angles at the top.

What to do:
Place the sundial on level ground in a sunny place, facing north. Check to see where the shadow falls on the dial. Then check it against a clock. If there's a difference, make sure the sundial is facing directly north. How will daylight-saving time affect the sundial's accuracy?

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