This activity enables students to better understand the motion of the Sun and how we use it to measure time. Students create a "horizon calendar" at their school by carefully observing and recording the horizon and the Sun at sunset (or sunrise, for early risers) over a period of weeks or months. Part 1 of this activity can be done as a whole group and involves selecting and drawing a detailed map of the site. Part 2 of this activity can be done as a whole group and involves determining the direction west and drawing the horizon line. Part 3 should be done by the teacher since it involves making weekly observations at sunset (or sunrise), which is outside of regular school hours. Part 4 can be done with the whole class and involves using the data from the observations to calculate the average rate of change in sunset time and respond to discussion questions. The activity is not time-consuming, but must be conducted over a period of at least a few weeks. It is best as a semester unit, or even a project for the entire school year. Also, the best time of year to run this activity is around the equinoxes: March and September. The lesson plan includes discussion questions, background information about desert horizons, and a math extension activity in which students calculate how the time of sunrise or sunset changes from day to day. This activity is the sixth lesson in the Ancient Eyes Look to the Skies curriculum guide.


  • Mathematics > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
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NSDL,Grade 4,Archaeoastronomy,NSDL_SetSpec_ncs-NSDL-COLLECTION-000-003-112-115,Mathematics:Problem solving,Mathematics,History of science,Upper Elementary,Grade 5,The nature of science:The scientific process,Solstices,Earth and space science:Earth, moon and sun:Days,The nature of science:Science and society,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20140407123842970T,Middle School,Elementary School,History/Policy/Law,Equinoxes,Heliophysics,Vocational/Professional Development Education,Earth and space science:Earth, moon and sun:Seasons,Geoscience



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