University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2044-2051
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1426
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Curriculum contents related to Earth position in the Universe, as well as those related to location and orientation of people on the Earth can be taught from a geography point of view (in which geographical coordinates are given as both the angle between an observer and Equator –latitude-, and between an observer and the Greenwich meridian –longitude-). Also, they could be approached from an empirical point of view, in which an observer could know its position on the Earth by tracking the Sunpath that can be observed from the place where he is located. On the other hand, it is well known that science teaching and learning in all levels of education should be based on the scientific practices, conducted as a research (or inquiry, on first levels of education); that it is to say, teaching/learning science must encourage the acquirement of knowledge through the scientific work, with children taking part in each stage of a “research” for they to build their knowledge. Here, we have made a didactical proposal to organize the schoolyard (i.e., to make a big compass), which could be used later to carry out other different activities of inquiry about spatial and temporal orientation using the Sun movement (diurnal astronomy). Despite that pupils can know the compass, as well as its use for spatial orientation and location of the cardinal points, the main idea here is that they could build their own compass by tracking the Sun movement. That is to say, we do not give them the knowledge in its final state, but they have to explore to “discover” where the four cardinal points are. To carry out this inquiry process, they have to determine the Meridian Line (i.e., the North–South direction), which is the imaginary line that contains the shortest daily shadow of a gnomon placed perpendicularly to the ground, any day of the year. In the direction the shadow points, we would find the North; in the opposite direction, at midday (when Sun reaches it maximum daily elevation, and when the shortest shadow of any object is observed), we would always find the South (in the Northern Hemisphere). Once the North-South direction is established, the East-West direction could be easily determined. Here we present in detail the materials and the proposal of activities to allow pupils building a compass by tracking the Sun movement.