Reasons for the Seasons

Declan De Paor, Mladen Dordovic, Paul Karabinos, Stephen Burgin, Filis Coba, and Steven Whitmeyer

This activity is part of the GEODE Project

Summary

Reasons for the seasons (RFTS for short) is an interactive learning resource that leverages the popular Google Earth virtual globe. It is designed to help students and members of the public visualize and understand the multiple factors that influence Earth's seasons.

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Context

Audience

Introductory physical geology course; Suitable for for school, 2- and 4-year college, and informal education.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

How the activity is situated in the course

The KML version of the activity was tested on we tested on 27 general education introductory astronomy students in a large U.S. research university and planetarium. Students had prior exposure to lectures and labs discussing stars and galaxies but had no prior classes involving the Solar System.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Using the Google Earth virtual globe to display 3D COLLADA models that allow students and their teachers to actively explore, visualize, deconstruct misconceptions, and discover the multiple reasons for seasonality.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Geospatial reasoning
  • Critical evaluation of why seasons on Earth are caused overwhelmingly by Earth's tilt and not significantly by variation in the distance from the Sun.

Other skills goals for this activity

Using Google Earth

Description and Teaching Materials

Open this KML file in Google Earth: RFTS_Local.kml (KMLFile 389bytes May11 20)

Open the Reasons for Seasons User Guide (Acrobat (PDF) 1.7MB May11 20) to guide students and instructors through the resource.

Teaching Notes and Tips

To open the KML file, you need the Google Earth desktop app installed on your computer. Get it here: https://www.google.com/earth/desktop. Google Earth for mobile devices is not supported.

Assessment

Please see the paper "Exploring the reasons for the seasons using Google Earth, 3D models, and plots" by Declan De Paor, Mladen Dordovic, Paul Karabinos, Stephen Burgin, Filis Coba, and Steven Whitmeyer. International Journal of Digital Earth, 2016. Exploring the reasons for the seasons using Google Earth, 3D models, and plots (Acrobat (PDF) 5.2MB Jan29 19)

Assessment using pre and post tests are described and discussed in detail in the published paper, and can be found here: Reasons for Seasons Pre/Post Test (Acrobat (PDF) 50kB Jan29 19)

References and Resources

A KML file can be downloaded from: http://csmgeo.csm.jmu.edu/Geollab/Whitmeyer/geode/RFTS/ and opened with the Google Earth desktop application.

Google Earth itself can be downloaded from [link https:// http://www.google.com/earth/desktop].

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