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Teacher's GuideChaco CanyonChichen Itza
Ancient Observatories


Chaco Canyon and Chichén Itzá are two of many places in the world where ancient observers studied the sky. The buildings in these two locations reflect cycles that these observers saw in the heavens. The markings people left behind describe the importance of those cycles to ancient life.

Use this teacher's guide as a basis for exploring ancient astronomy. We've provided classroom activities and supplemental material about the sun, seasons, ancient cultures, and the ways in which these cultures' relationship to the sun was expressed. Each module includes National Science Education Standards, downloadable versions of each activity, links to background material, media to use in your classroom, and more.

Activities relating to the Chaco Canyon Web site:

north arrowKnowing North
Stand outside on a sunny day with a watch in your hand, and you can tell which way is north.

tilted earthModeling the Seasons
See for yourself how the tilt of the earth's axis results in what we experience as the seasons.

spiralMake Your Own Petroglyph
Try your hand at explaining symbols both modern and ancient, and then making your own.

Seasons and Shadows
Why is your shadow longer in winter than in summer? Let Exploratorium astronomer Linda Shore show you!

Activities relating to the Chichén Itzá Web site:

The Mayan Calendar Round
Did you know the Maya used two calendars? How did they know when to plan their big New Year's parties?

Breaking the Mayan Code
No 1s or 2s here. Learn to count like the Maya by studying one of their ancient stone documents

You'll find many other relevant activities in the Educator's section of NASA's Ancient Observatories Web site.

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