Lesson:What Orbital Dynamic Variables Are Responsible For Earth’s Weather?

Author: Eric Kolb

Area: Earth and Space Sciences

Grade Level: 6-8


A common misconception of an introductory astronomy student is that the changing distance of Earth from the Sun (an elliptical orbit) is responsible for Earth's changing seasons. Using an Earth/Sun orbit model, the student will determine which of two orbital dynamic variables - eccentric orbit or inclined axis of rotation, is responsible for Earth’s changing seasons.


Standard 1: Science as Inquiry
1SC-E1. Identify a question, formulate a hypothesis, control and manipulate variables, devise experiments, predict outcomes, compare and analyze results, and defend conclusions
• Conduct an experiment using a scientific method
• Analyze the results of an experiment
• Defend conclusions drawn from the analysis
1SC-E2. Create a model (e.g., a computer simulation, a stream table) to predict change
• Construct a model that demonstrates change within a system
• Describe variables that cause change
• Explain cause and effect of variables within a system
1SC-E3. Organize and present data gathered from their own experiences, using appropriate mathematical analyses and graphical representations
• Construct a representation of data (e.g., histogram, stem-and-leaf plot, scatter plot, circle graph, flow chart)
• Interpret patterns in collected data
Standard 2: History and Nature of Science
2SC-E3. Provide different explanations for a phenomenon; defend and refute the explanations
• Analyze different theories to explain a phenomenon
• Defend or refute the explanation of a phenomenon
Standard 6: Earth and Space Science
6SC-E1. Describe and model the motion of earth in relation to the sun, including the concepts of day, night, season and year

 Lesson Plan (pdf/doc)