Chaperone Guide

Sun, Shadows, and Seasons (Grade 5)

This guide will help you introduce your group of students to three exhibits about the sun, shadows, and the seasons. We’ve provided some questions you can ask to focus their explorations. Have fun and enjoy the exhibits!

Visiting the exhibits

You can take your group to the exhibits at any time during the field trip. Visit the exhibits in the order given. (If there's a crowd at an exhibit, let your group do something else first.) If you need help finding an exhibit, just ask an Explainer.

Setting the stage

Tell students that at each exhibit they should do these three things:

Sky Theater

Use the questions below to help students make observations about the path of the sun during different seasons.

Try it out!

Watch the complete video from beginning to end (about 2 minutes).

What did you notice? Which parts of the landscape in the video are familiar?

Ready for a challenge?

Come outside of the theater and look out the window or stand on the terrace. Figure out which way is north, south, east, and west.

What do you think the path of the sun will be today? Trace it in the sky with your finger.

Let’s talk about it.

Ask the students to start by discussing the questions with a partner and then discuss them as a group. Tell them, don’t worry, this is not about getting the "right answer," it’s about sharing ideas!

How did you decide the path of the sun?

Where do you think the path of the sun will be during the winter? How about during the summer?

Solar Motion Model

Use the questions below to help students explore how their position on earth and the time of year change how they experience daylight.

Try it out!

What did you try? What did you notice?

Ready for a challenge?

Can you find a way to model a long day? How about modeling a short day?

Can you show the path of the sun that San Francisco is experiencing today?

Let’s talk about it.

Ask the students to start by discussing the questions with a partner and then discuss them as a group.

Oculus Table

(this exhibit only works on a sunny day)

Use the questions below to help students explore how to use the sun to tell the approximate date and time.

Try it out!

Position the table so that it’s pointing north (use the landmark clues on the edges of the table and the north-pointing arrow on the floor). Make sure you can see the shadow from the black ball in the exhibit.

What do you notice?

Ready for a challenge?

Can you get the shadow of the black ball to fall on the current time and month? (If it’s daylight savings time, the time shown on your watch will be an hour ahead of the time shown in the exhibit.)

Let’s talk about it.

Ask the students to start by discussing the questions with a partner and then discuss them as a group. It’s OK if you don’t agree.

Where do you think the sun will be in the sky in two hours? Where do you think the table will need to be positioned?