Previous Version (this is no longer maintained)
 
 
This WebQuest is modified from a WebQuest found at Science-Class.net.
 
 
 
 

Websites current as of August 6, 2012

This WebQuest covers the following Utah 6th Grade Science Standards:

STANDARD II:  Students will understand how Earth’s tilt on its axis changes the length of daylight and creates the seasons.

Objective 1:  Describe the relationship between the tilt of Earth's axis and its yearly orbit around the sun.
a. Describe the yearly revolution (orbit) of Earth around the sun.
b. Explain that Earth's axis is tilted relative to its yearly orbit around the sun.

Objective 2:  Explain how the relationship between the tilt of Earth's axis and its yearly orbit around the sun produces the seasons.
a. Compare Earth’s position in relationship to the sun during each season.
d. Use a drawing and/or model to explain that changes in the angle at which light from the sun strikes Earth, and the length of daylight, determine seasonal differences in the amount of energy received.

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Introduction

Why do we have seasons?  Why is winter colder than summer?  Is it because the Earth is closer to the Sun in summer than winter? 

This WebQuest will help you understand the reasons for the seasons.  Take your time and complete each task carefully.  If you do, you’ll be surprised just how much you will learn.

Task

You have been hired by an educational publishing company to produce posters for middle school science classrooms. Your first poster is to be one that shows the causes of seasons on Earth.

Since many students have the wrong idea about what causes seasons (they think that they are caused by the Earth being closer to the Sun during the summer) it is very important that your poster be very accurate. Your poster will answer the question "What causes seasons".

After you have researched the information for your posters, you will go back to the classroom and make your posters. If you haven’t been given the WebQuest worksheet and requirements, click here.

Process

Misconceptions

Your first poster will identify misconceptions students have about the seasons.  What are these misconceptions?  Use the resources below to find common misconceptions students have about the reasons for the seasons. 

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy - Misconceptions (read question & answer)

Seasons Misconceptions (read Seasons Misconceptions paragraph)

Common Misconceptions

Some Common Misconceptions

The Seasons

Once you have the information about the misconceptions, it’s time to learn the real reasons.

It’s the Tilt, Baby!

The real reason for the seasons is the tilt of the Earth.  Go the websites below.  Use the information you learn from the websites to explain the tilt of the Earth.  You will need this information to make your second poster.

Earth's Tilt Is the Reason for the Seasons!

Earth’s Revolution and Sun Angle

Earth’s Tilt and the Seasons

What Causes the Seasons?

Seasons and the Tilt

Seasons and the Tilt Interactive

Why is the Earth Tilted? (podcast)

Earth Location and Seasons

As the Earth revolves around the Sun, the tilt of the Earth affects the seasons.  The direction of the tilt never changes.  It is always pointing towards the North Star (Polaris).  Using the information from the websites, you will make your third poster.  Your third poster will show the location of the Earth at each season.  Make sure the tilt is in the right direction! 

Earth’s Appearance Different Times During the Year

Seasons Interactive

Seasons Interactive II

Seasons Applet Using a Sundial

Observe Seasonal Changes

What’s Your Angle?

We have learned that the Earth’s tilt is responsible for the seasons.  We have also learned how the position of the Earth as it goes around the Sun affects the seasons.  The next question is, “How do the tilt and the Earth’s position affect the seasons?”  Use the resources below to get the information you need to make your fourth poster.

Earth Sun Geometry

Direct/Indirect Sunlight Interactive

Earth’s Revolution and Sun Angle

Sun/Angle Lab

Sun Angle and Light

Understanding the Seasons Through Pictures

Observing the Sky: Motion of the Earth - Seasons

Evaluation

You have been given a copy of the the rubric telling how your posters will be graded.

Conclusion

As you have researched the information required for the posters, you have learned about the reasons for the seasons.  Your challenge is to remember this information and share it whenever someone does not understand the reasons for the seasons.