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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Make a Sundial

Lesson Description:
makeasundial Students will be able to...
  • Explain how energy from the sun has been used over time to improve the way people do things (e.g., sundials to tell time, solar cookers/stills to prepare food and water for consumption, solar power to generate electricity).
  • Describe how a sundial works and how it can be used to tell the time.
  • Differentiate between solar time and clock time, and explain why they vary.
  • Make observations, record and interpret data.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

Time Needed:
60 minute session plus additional outdoor observation sessions during the day
Standards Addressed:
Technology Standard 3: Understand the relationship among science, technology, society and the individual.
  • Benchmark # 8: Know that people have invented and used tools throughout history to solve problems and improve ways of doing things.

Technology standard 4: Understand the nature of technological design.
  • Benchmark # 6: Use appropriate tools, techniques and quantitative measurements to implement proposed solutions.

Science Standard 12: Understand the nature of scientific inquiry.
  • Benchmark # 3: Plan and conduct simple investigations.
  • Benchmark # 4: Use appropriate tools and simple equipment to gather scientific data and extend the senses.

Geography Standard 7: Know the physical processes that shape the patterns on earth’s surface.
  • Benchmark # 3: Know how earth’s position relative to the sun affects events and conditions on earth (e.g., how the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun results in solar time varying from clock time).

History Standard 7: Understand selected attributes and historical developments of societies in africa, asia and europe.
  • Benchmark # 5: knows significant historical achievements of various cultures of the world (e.g., the development of scientific instrument, such as the sundial).

Mathematics Standard 5: Understand and apply the basic and advanced properties of the concepts of geometry.
  • Benchmark # 6: Understand characteristics of lines (e.g., parallel, perpendicular, intersecting) and angles.

Materials Needed:
  • Nine inch paper plates- white
  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Pencils (multiple colors)
  • Sidewalk chalk (2 colors)
  • Compasses
  • Scissors
  • "Make a Sundial Chart" provided below
  • A copy of "Anno's Sundial" by Mitsumasa Anno  

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf Make a Sundial_Lesson.pdf
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf MakeaSundial.pdf
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf MakeaSundial.pdf
Located in: Math | Social Studies | Science

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools