- Big Ideas
- Essential Questions
- Content Outcomes Addressed
- Standards Addressed
- Additional Resources
- Pre- and Post-Assessment
- Investigation 1: Sun Legends
- Extension: Make a Sundial
- Nearly all energy on Earth originally comes from the sun.
- Humans, animals, and plants all interact with the sun on a daily basis.
- Human cultures have always been fascinated by the sun and wondered about its existence.
How does the sun affect life on Earth?
Content Outcomes Addressed
- Students will be able to discuss the role the sun has played in human mythology.
- Students will be able to observe and measure the ways the sun affects animal behavior.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas: ESS2.D (K-2) (9-12), LS1.C (K-2) (3-5) (6-8), LS2.A (3-5), PS3.D (K-2) (3-5) (6-8)
- Science and Engineering Practices: 3, 4, 6, 7,8
- Crosscutting Concepts: 2, 5, 6, 7
- Reading: R.K.1, R.K.2, R.K.4, R.K.6, R.K.9, R.1.1, R.1.2, R.1.4, R.1.6, R.1.9, R.2.1, R.2.2, R.2.4, R.2.6, R.2.9, R.3.1, R.3.2, R.3.4, R.3.6, R.3.9, R.4.1, R.4.2, R.4.4, R.5.1, R.5.2, R.5.4, R.6.1, R.6.2, R.6.6, R.7.1, R.7.2, R.8.1, R.8.2
- Writing: W.K.2, W.K.8, W.1.2, W.1.8, W.2.8
- Speaking and Listening: SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.6, SL.1.1, SL.1.2, SL.1.6, SL.2.1, SL.2.2, SL.2.6, SL.3.1, SL.3.2, SL.3.6, SL.4.1, SL.4.2, SL.5.1, SL.5.2, SL.6.2
National Geography Standards: 4, 6, 7, 15
The sun is an important factor for life on Earth. Almost all of the energy used by all living creatures on Earth originates in the sun. Plants use energy from the sun directly, converting it into food via photosynthesis. The energy then moves up the food chain provide as animals eat the plants and other animals eat those animals. Humans have found many ways to use the sun’s energy. The energy in the food we eat originated in the sun; the energy stored in fossil fuels comes from very old dead plants and therefore from the sun. The sun causes wind, so windmills use energy from the sun, and of course solar power uses energy directly from the sun.
- sundial: a device that uses the position of the sun and the shadow it casts to tell the time of day
- electromagnetic radiation: energy that travels in the form of a wave; examples include visible light, radio waves, infrared and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays
Pre- and Post-Assessment
Assess prior knowledge by asking students to respond in writing and pictures to the prompt, “What are the different ways in which humans use the sun and its energy?” Have students repeat this activity after the unit of study.
- Light is not a form of energy.
- Misconceptions about the origin of the sun
Investigation 1: Sun Legends
What can we learn from reading legends about the sun?
- Grandmother Spider legend (print out from Resources, upper right)
- One or two other sun legends. Choose from your own culture or from the following suggestions: The Fifth and Final Sun: An Ancient Aztec Myth of the Sun’s Origin, by C. Shana Greger; Coyote Knocking Down the Sun, by Kevin Welch; “Maui Snaring the Sun” http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/maui/maui07.htm
- Ask students, “Where did the sun come from?”
- Have students share their ideas in pairs, groups, or with the whole class. Discuss the difference between science and myth and the importance of both.
- Read How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun (see Resources, upper right)
- Read another sun origin legend.
- Have students write down things they heard about the origin of the sun in the legends, and suggest that they draw their own illustrations for one or both of the stories.
- What were the similarities between the two legends? What were the differences?
- Who were the main characters?
- What do the legends tell us about the cultures they originate from?
Have students respond to the following prompt with writing and pictures: “Why is the sun important for all life on Earth?”
Extension: Make a Sundial
- piece of modeling clay
- watch or clock
- Find a sunny spot. Put the stick in the ground or in a piece of modeling clay.
- Using your watch throughout the daylight hours, place a rock to mark where the shadow of the sun falls at that hour. Since a sundial can only show daylight hours, you will have a rock for each hour there is sunlight. Depending on when you start making your sundial, you may have to place rocks over a couple of days to complete it.
- Now your sundial is ready to use. When you want to tell the time, just look for the shadow. In the image below, the stones are used to mark each hour from 7am to 7pm. The picture was taken at 9:15 in the morning. In the beginning, you may find it hard to be very precise. With a bit of practice, you should be able to tell time to the nearest 15 minutes, and maybe even more accurately.