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Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

Activity: Altitude of the Noon Sun

The following text is excerpted from GLPA Proceedings, 1992, p. 81; used with permission:

Materials:  1 plate per student, pencils, scissors

 Object:  Observing and collecting data; Discovering the sun's pathway

1.    Fold your plate in half.   Cut on the fold line.

2.    Take one of the halves.  Fold it again making it look like 1/4 of a plate.  Do not cut!  Do not fold the second half.

3.    Lay the first half in the sunlight with a the fold east and west and the plate open to the south.  [Assume you have already talked about directions]

4.    Unfold the plate until the shadow disappears.  Hold the second half of the plate with the flat part on the ground up to the first so you can mark the angle of the first where the shadow disappeared.  You should have a line on the second plate.  Write the time and date on the line.

5.    Do this several times during a sunny day.  What happens and why?

6.    Do this project again a month later.  Repeat it about once a month.  Try to predict what will happen.  See if your prediction is correct.

7.     Can you think of a more exact way to measure than using the paper plate?

 Contributed by Wayne James.

Paper Plate Ed says...

See also Altitude of the Noon Sun II and Altitude of the Noon Sun III .

Another way to track the changing altitude and azimuth of the sun is to use the astrolabe-like device from Altitude Measurer.  


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