How to Tell Time with the Sun?

Did you know that in ancient times people used to tell the time by looking at the Sun? Young children of the current generation might not know how to tell the time with the Sun. Therefore, you need to conduct science experiments for kids in order to teach them the old techniques of telling the time in a creative way. This will help them understand the concept of telling the time by looking at the Sun. 

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The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Therefore, you can easily tell the time by looking at the location of the Sun. The Earth takes 365 days to complete the rotation around the Sun. The part of the Earth facing the Sun is daytime, and the other part of the Earth which does not face the Sun is night. In ancient times, there were no clocks or watches to see the time. They used to completely depend on the Sun to keep track of time on a daily basis. Learning how to tell time with the Sun is one of the best science project ideas for kids. 

Role of the Sun in Telling the Time 

The Earth is a beautiful place to live, and it travels around the Sun. When you see the Earth facing the Sun, it is actually daytime for us. And, when the Earth spins away from the Sun, we experience night. For example, the United States of America experiences daytime while the Asian countries experience darkness. Similarly, you observe the season where you feel warmer when the Earth is facing towards the Sun and feel colder away from the Sun. 

Did you know in ancient times, people relied only on the Sun to tell the time?  When the Sun rises in the east, it used to be considered as morning and when it sets in the west, considered to be evening. The first-ever clock that was invented was a Sundial. The shadow of an object moves as and when the Sun moves. The shadow of the objects seen in a Sundial was called a gnomon. In today’s world, people just look at the watch in order to see the time. In earlier days, it was not that very convenient to tell the time. People used to rely on shadows to tell the time based on how it reflected on the Earth. 

Fun Facts about a Sundial 

Some of the interesting facts about Sundials are mentioned below:

  • The word gnomon comes from the Greek word meaning indicator.
  • The gnomon is a metal pointer that casts the shadow on a Sundial. 
  • It helps in knowing the altitude of the Sun. 
  • It helps in telling the time based on the types of shadow it cast.
  • There are two types of Sundials such as altitude and azimuth.
  • The cast of a shadow is shortened when the Sun is at its peak.  
  • It works based on the changing location of the Sun.
  • The people can tell the time depending on the Sunset and Sunrise. 
  • The largest Sundial was made in India in the year 1724. 

Easy Science Project: How to Tell Time with the Sun?

Apart from knowing how to tell the time using a clock or a watch, children must also know how people used to tell the time with the Sun in ancient times. If you find no other ways to know the time, you can look into the sky and see the location of the Sun.  This helps children to learn how people in the past used to tell the time by looking at the Sun. You can conduct a small experiment for kids to see how to tell the time with the Sun. 

How to Tell Time with the Sun?

Aim of the Project 

To make a Sundial and observe the cast of shadows in order to tell the time without using a clock or a watch under the guidance of teachers or parents. 

Materials Required 

  • A wooden board
  • A hammer
  • A nail
  • A straw
  • A few thumbtacks
  • A marker or a pen

Procedure 

  • Take a wooden board and insert a nail at the center of the board using a hammer with the help of elders. 
  • Take a plastic straw and slip it over the nail. You need to make sure that the nozzle of the straw is able to pass through the nail. 
  • Take the board outside of your home early in the morning as soon as the Sun rises. Make sure that you choose a place or a spot where you can keep the board and is not restricted by any tree or other things. 
  • Keep the board in a place where there is no sign of shadows that can hinder the experiment that you are performing. 
  • Then, mark the shadow of the straw on the board using a thumbtack. Write the hours below the thumbtack in order to keep track of timing. 
  • Keep repeating this process after every hour till the evening when there are no shadows visible. For example, if you keep the thumbtack at 6 a.m, then keep the next after an hour at 7 a.m.
  • Observe and record the numbers based on the cast of the shadows after every hour. 

Result 

It was observed that the shadow of the straw was shortened when the Sun was at its peak. The length of the shadow decreases in midday and gradually increases when the Sun is about to set. You can conduct this experiment only during a sunny day so that you are able to observe the cast of shadows on a Sundial. 

Benefits of Learning about How to Tell Time with the Sun

Some of the benefits of learning about how to tell time with the Sun are mentioned below:

  • Develops observational and analytical skills in children.
  • Enables children to understand the concept of how the Sun helps in telling the time correctly.
  • Creates interest to learn and become familiar with the ancient tools that helped people in the past to tell the time with the Sun.
  • Provides deeper knowledge on the scientific reason behind telling the time with the help of the Sun.
  • Helps in learning about the ancient methods to tell the time.
  • Creates an interest to perform an experiment and observe the methods that enable people to tell the time with the Sun. 

To know more information, explore science games for kids, STEM activities for kids in the kids learning section at Osmo.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Tell Time with the Sun

How to tell time with the Sun?

To tell the time with the Sun, you can help kids in making a Sundial that enables them to tell the time based on the cast of shadows. The cast of the shadow is shorter when the Sun is at its peak and gradually becomes longer during the sunset.

What are the benefits of learning about how to tell time with the Sun?

The benefits of learning about how to tell time with the Sun are that it helps children to tell the time by performing an experiment with the materials available at home. Most importantly, it enables children to understand the ancient techniques of telling the time with the Sun and developing observational skills in them.

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