# Seasons Interactive

Contributor
McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Simulation , Interactive Simulation
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

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## Description

Seasons Interactive provides students with the opportunity to investigate how Earth's angle of inclination affects three factors: the angle of incoming sunlight, average daily temperatures and the Sun’s ecliptic path. Three preset values for the angle of inclination are available (corresponding to the values of Earth, Venus and Uranus). Additionally, users may select an angle value from a sliding scale. Users can control the speed of the simulation or may pause it when needed. Students are able to compare the heights of the ecliptic paths during the course of the year by checking the “Trace Sun’s Path” box. From this information, students will be able to construct an explanation for the occurrence of seasons. Exercises with solutions are included, as well as a self-assessment located below the simulation. Teachers should be aware of several weaknesses in the simulation. First, the model allows students to reverse the motion of the Earth around the Sun which could lead to misconceptions. Secondly, the model overemphasizes the elliptical path of the Earth which often leads to the misconception that seasons are caused by distance from the Sun. Lastly, while the Sun is shown moving across the sky during the day (from Earth's view), the stars are left static during the night.

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

#### Performance Expectations

MS-ESS1-1 Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.

Clarification Statement: Examples of models can be physical, graphical, or conceptual.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

This simulation allows students the opportunity to use a model to describe the cyclic nature of seasons. In this model, students can investigate how Earth's angle of inclination results in predictable, seasonal phenomena. Once students understand how Earth's angle results in seasons, they should be encouraged to compare the effects of a range of different inclination angles on seasonal temperature changes. By selecting different angles, students will soon realize that observed seasonal changes are dependent on the angle of inclination. It should be noted that while students are constructing their own explanations as to why seasons occur, they are not creating their own models, an essential part of the Performance Expectation.

#### Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Seasons Interactive allows students the opportunity to describe and predict seasonal changes by investigating angles of inclination. When students change the angle of inclination, three values are affected: the angle of incoming sunlight, the apparent position of the Sun in the sky and temperature. By recording, citing and analyzing this information, students will more easily construct an explanation for seasons. It should be noted that in this simulation the emphasis is on investigating and constructing explanations, not on model creation.

#### Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

As previously noted, this simulation deals with the relationship between earth's tilt and seasonal changes. To introduce this simulation, teachers may first want to have students compare a zero value for the angle of inclination with the preset value for Earth’s actual angle. By doing this, students should see that this angle affects incoming sunlight over the course of the year and that this, in turn, results in seasonal temperature fluctuations. Once students understand this concept, they should be encouraged to obtain additional evidence through manipulating the angle of inclination. During each iteration of the model, students should record all observed changes in temperature, angle of incoming sunlight and apparent path of the Sun. One limitation of this simulation is that only one location on Earth is available; therefore, students are not able to compare seasonal changes for different latitudes.

#### Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.