This year, the summer solstice will fall on June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice is the time when the sun rises to its highest point at noon, and it falls on the day during which there is the longest period of daylight. For this reason, the summer solstice also is often known as "the longest day of the year." From the summer solstice until the winter solstice, the period of daylight on each day will continue to get shorter.
The solstices are special days because they are easy times to calculate the angle of the tilt of the Earth's axis (known as the axial tilt).The fact that the Earth spins along a tilted axis is the reason why there are solstices (and why there are seasons!). This summer solstice, take the time to head outside with a measuring stick and some graph paper and follow the instructions for calculating the Earth's Tilt to investigate the Earth's axial tilt yourself. Summer break is a great time to do some at-home learning, and since there are many misconceptions surrounding why the seasons exist, this activity is a great way to engage kids in scientific inquiry of an important topic.
To explore this topic further, take a look at the Tilted Earth Science Update and the Measuring Shadows lesson. Be sure to check out our Four Seasons lesson and our Earth Science Week collection for more materials on teaching the seasons, too.
Image Credit: Clipart.com
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