Author: Ann Bykerk-Kauffman . Room Of Geological and also Environmental Sciences, California State University, Chico

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You are watching: Why does the equator experience about the same temperatures year-round

This page an initial made public: Sep 15, 2009
This product was originally developed forOn the cutting Edge: Professional breakthrough for Geoscience Faculty and also is replicated right here as part of the Pedagogic Service.

One of the most common and persistent clinical misconceptions is the Earth's seasons are brought about by Earth's street from the sun. A carefully related and perhaps an ext common misconception is that the equator is warmer 보다 the poles since the equator is substantially closer come the sun than room the poles (i.e. The equator "bulges out" towards the sun). Even professional geoscientists sometimes host the latter misconception. It is, for example, proclaimed as fact in one of the (to stay nameless) "Geology Underfoot" collection of guidebooks. Many people combine the 2 misconceptions. Because that example, many world know the the southern hemisphere experiences winter while the north hemisphere experience summer (and visa versa), however they describe this phenomenon by erroneously stating the the northern hemisphere is closer to the sunlight in June 보다 it is in December because Earth's tilt toward the sunlight in June makes the northern hemisphere "bulge out" towards the sun. The guided-discovery task described below helps college student confront and also overcome both that these common misconceptions as it guides students toward an understanding of how and why the angle of incident sunlight identify the strongness of the solar power that strikes the ground and hence exactly how the angle of incident sunlight deserve to be supplied to explain both seasonal and latitudinal differences in temperature. Along the way, this task helps students visualize the true size of the solar system and the miscellaneous objects in ~ it. This look at unrelated object is included in this task because an accurate perception of the range of the solar mechanism helps students understand that (1) Earth's equator is not substantially closer come the sunlight than space its poles, and (2) every sunrays intercepted by planet are basically parallel to each other, whether they win the equatorial or polar regions -- a ide that is vital for knowledge how and also why the edge of incident sunlight varies systematically with latitude and season.


In this activity, students confront their misconceptions about seasonal and also latitudinal temperature variations, involved understand the true causes of this phenomena, practice using basic physical models to settle problems, and also develop their 3-D visualization skills.

The certain content finding out objectives are:Visualize the true-scale proportions the the solar system -- the sizes of objects and distances between them.Clearly and totally explain why it is warmer in ~ the equator 보다 it is in ~ the poles.Show exactly how the tilt the Earth's axis and also Earth's transformation around the sun cause seasonal sport in temperature by resulting in seasonal sports in job length and maximum daily solar altitude.
This task has been generally tested, revised and retested for much more than 15 year in the principles in earth and space Sciences course because that future teachers at California State University, Chico. It should work fine in planet science and astronomy process from middle school to university level. Because this task is design to guide students toward discovery of the concepts, it works best if finish it before reading any type of explanations of or receiving any type of direct instruction about the reasons of the seasons or why that is warmer at the equator 보다 it is in ~ the poles.
Other materials needed (in chronological order):Per Table:FlashlightLight fixture through a single unshaded frosted light bulb.Pencil placed into one 3 customs diameter white Polystyrene ball. An ordinary Styrofoam round will no do; the ball must be opaque. Argued source: Molecular model Enterprises, 116 Swift St., P.O. Crate 250, Edgerton, WI 53334, (608)884-9877. Prices space under $1 each.Per classroomYellow or white exercise sphere -- 65 cm (25.5 inch) to 75 centimeter (29.5 inch) diameter, to represent the sun, which has actually a diameter of 1.4 million km. (The right scale design size would be 70 centimeter or 27.5 inches.)Exercise sphere stand10 centimeter Pilates toning round to stand for Proxima Centauri, the nearest starOutdoor room at the very least 120 m longTape measure (optional; student can also measure ranges by counting paces)3 ring standsOverhead projectorLarge item of white stubborn (foam backed) poster boardLarge world on a stand; 30" - 36" diameter is best.

General Comments: This activity can be completed in two hrs if students give it a superficial treatment, however three to 4 hours are required for an thorough exploration, including the confrontation of any kind of misconceptions and the building of a complete understanding of the concepts.

As students occupational through these activities, encourage castle to engage in lively conversations, continuous brainstorming, questioning, and checking for consistency. In mine experience, college student are frequently inconsistent -- gently contact them ~ above this. Because that example, one college student adamantly insisted -- in spite of the protestations of she team members -- that the equator to be not significantly closer to the sunlight than were the poles. Yet, she climate attributed the temperature differences between the equator and the poles to differences in their distances to the sun. I pointed out that she was contradicting herself, which brought about her to communicate in some deep thinking which culminated in an "Aha!" moment that she absolutely delighted in.

Notes top top Lab activity #1: Scale model of the Solar System

I introduce doing the outdoor activity as a whole class with college student volunteers to stand for each planet; choose the tallest human being in the class to speed off the distances. As soon as you acquire to "Earth," have actually the students place the moon in ~ the proper distance from planet and point out that, coincidentally, the moon and sun look the same size as seen from Earth.In the table at the bottom of page 2, to fill in proper landmarks in your local area that are located at the version distances.Questions 1 and also 2 on page 3 generally generate a great deal of discussion. The students may need a same amount of prodding and also questioning to gain to the exactly answers.

Notes ~ above Lab task #2: Why is that Warmer in ~ the Equator 보다 it is at the Poles?

Place the globe on a respond to so the it is tilted come the right or left (i.e. Feather or autumn position) v the Pacific Ocean facing the overhead projector -- having a fairly featureless part of the globe face the projector helps students view the network projected on it much more clearly, without being distracted by the details of complicated shorelines or borders.

Notes top top Lab task on the reasons of the Seasons

Before students start this activity, explain to them the each team will it is in asked to build an initial hypothesis to explain the causes of the seasons. The students will certainly then try to usage this hypothesis to explain a collection of facts. If their hypothesis is not as much as the task, they must discard and also reformulate, modify, or include to your initial hypothesis until it can carry out a satisfactory explanation of the facts.

At the end of this activity, I generally assess student finding out by having student groups present their answers to the rest of the class. I divide the different parts the this activity among the student groups, assigning each team to prepare illustrations and orally current their component to the remainder of the class. Every presentation is then adhered to by a whole-class discussion.

I entrust this Homework Assignment on the causes of the seasons (Microsoft native 58kB Sep5 09) together assessment, but additionally as a method for students to consolidate the understandings that they have built during the guided-discovery activity. Student often benefit from a formal timeless presentation of ideas that they have actually previously struggled to master while working v a hand-operated guided-discovery activity. When the classic presentation follows guided discovery, it deserve to be very meaningful, building students' to trust in their freshly flower ideas and organizing their explorations into a logical and elegant construct. Without some type of traditional presentation that the concepts, students are often so unsure that themselves that they feel lost. Yet, in my classes, student rarely complete (let alone comprehend the product presented in) a "Read chapter 3" kind of assignment, also when it's complied with by a quiz. Yet the vast majority of student will complete an assignment prefer the one presented here, which requires students come extract and also record particular information native the textbook. Higher-order thinking it's not, but it is a valuable incentive come encourage student to open up their textbooks and also actually recognize what is composed there.

I give students exercise answering concerns in low-stakes ConcepTests (using clickers) or on-line practice quizzes prior to asking such concerns on high-stakes exams. Below are part sample questions:

Why is it hotter in ~ the equator 보다 it is at the poles?

a. Since the equator is closer to the sun.

b. Because the sun's rays travel through much more atmosphere at the equator.

c. Due to the fact that the sun's power is an ext spread the end at the equator.

d. Because the sun's rays fight the earth's surface at a greater angle in ~ the equator.

e. Since the sunlight is always directly overhead in ~ the equator.

If the Earth's axis only had actually a 5° tilt, how would the periods in Chico be different from just how they are now?

a. The seasons would it is in shorter.

b. The transitions between seasons would be more abrupt.

c. The comparison in temperature in between summer and winter wouldn't be as great.

d. Summer days would be much longer than they space now and winter days would certainly be much shorter than they are now.

e. Every one of the above.

On exams, ns ask students open-ended essay concerns (Microsoft word 4.3MB Sep5 09) that need them come synthesize the concepts gained from this laboratory activity.

Gould, A., Willard, C. And also Pompea, S., 2004, The real Reasons for Seasons: Sun-Earth Connections: gems (Great Explorations in Math and Science), Lawrence hall of Science, college of California, Berkeley. This teacher's overview features plenty of engaging hands-on activities. Although it was written for teachers of grades 6-8, the is additionally useful for high school teachers and also college professors.Schneps, Matthew H., 1989, A personal Universe.

See more: What Did Itachi Whisper To Sasuke In Naruto Shippuden? What Does Itachi Say To Sasuke Before Dying

This video clip was produced by the folks at the exclusive Universe job who studied typical misconceptions around the seasons and the phases of the moon. To watch this video, role to the bottom that the page and click ~ above the "VoD" icon. Friend will have actually to an initial register through the Annenburg Media facility ( to watch the video, yet registration is complimentary and it grants you access to plenty of other videos for educators.An expansion of this task that help students deepen their understanding of the concepts is to model the course of the sun throughout the sky at various latitudes and at various times of the year. Fantastic inexpensive solar activity demonstrator kit is easily accessible from the Astronomical culture of the Pacific ( I have actually written a worksheet for students to finish (Microsoft indigenous 63kB Sep5 09) as they work-related with these solar movement demonstrators.

Go earlier to the Guided Discovery difficulties examples page.