Dear Noon Day participants,
Welcome to the Fall, 2006 version of the Noon Observation
In the course of the next four weeks your students will:
There are a variety of ways you can approach this project
depending on the amount of time you have available and the level of
What I've done is outline one possible scenario that would give you
ideas about how you might proceed. Feel free to do whatever is
for you. The only requirements we have is that you observe these
- learn about Eratosthenes and his amazing measurement of the
circumference of the earth,
- do a similar experiment by
collaborating with another school or schools and
- analyze and
reflect on the data collected to see how correct your measurements are
and what you learned from this project.
1. Register for the Project by September 8th.
2. Include your location on our guest map.
2. September 6th - Project Begins! Write the Class
Letter of Introduction and submit it to the Discussion
Area by September 15th.
3. Learn about the project. Detailed
Lesson Plans are located in the
3. Complete your shadow measurements by September 25th and enter your measurement data at
the Project Data website
that is now open.
4. Do your circumference calculations
by October 2nd.
See Teacher Guide for details.
5. Write and submit a Final Report by October 13th. See instructions for final report.
If you have difficulty
meeting this time line, please let me know. Also, feel
free to contact me with questions and concerns as we go along.
Week 1: September 6th - 8th
"Setting the Stage" Activities
To prepare your students for the measurements that will
place, you might start off by making them more aware of shadows and the
"stories they tell." For example:
|Activity: Shadow Stories
Have your students look at a shadow (like
the one on
the right.) Have them describe what a shadow does over the
course of a
day (from sunrise to sunset.) Make a graph to tell the shadow's
a Shadow Plot in the Northern Hemisphere for details.
When is the sun directly overhead? What
happens to the length of the shadow at that time? Is there any time
when the sun would
be directly overhead and NOT cast a shadow?
(Please share your student's stories in
the discussion area.)
questions to ponder
- Do you think ancient man thought the earth was round or
- Let's say you belonged to the "Flat Earth Society." What
arguments would you make for the earth being flat?
- What arguments would you give if you were a member of the
is Round" Club?
Interesting sidebar: One of
the myths that James Loewen debunked in his book "Lies my
Told Me - Everything Your American History Textbook got Wrong" (p.
is that most people at the time of Columbus' voyages thought the earth
flat. Columbus was not so daring, nor did his crew want to mutiny
they feared they would drop off the edge of the earth. The truth is
most people around 1492 believed the earth was round. Historians give
to Washington Irving's biography of Columbus in 1828 for starting the
He had an account of how Columbus had to convince his investors of the
spherical nature of the earth. Pure fiction.
Week 2: September 11th - 15th
Math & Science: What Eratosthenes did and why the experiment worked
(More about this on Friday, September 8th.)
Introducing the project to your
(See suggested lesson for more detail.)
Imagine that you are living over 2000 years ago and you are
convinced that the earth is round. How would you go about measuring it?
One way would be to start walking in one direction and keep track of
how far you go. If the earth is round as you believe, eventually you
should return to where
you started. Do you think anyone actually contemplated trying this back
then? Why or why not? What would be some of the obstacles?
Another method would be to drill a hole to the "other side" of
the earth and measure the distance. Once you knew that distance, could
you determine how round the earth is? Is there a relationship between
the distance around a circle (circumference) and the distance through
the center of the circle (diameter)? (You might try one of the
activities at http://arcytech.org/java/pi/
to see if you can discover a relationship between the circumference of
and its diameter.*) Unfortunately, digging a hole through the center of
earth is just as out of the question as circumnavigating the globe by
This brings me to someone named Eratosthenes who was born 2000
years ago in Cyrene, a town in northern Africa. He actually found out
how round the earth is by doing an experiment. His idea was to think of
as an orange cut in half. The cross section is divided into wedges just
like pizza slices. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Read the full story.
Week 3: September 18th - 22nd
- You should try to get your measurement done during this
extended week. This year the Autumnal Equinox falls on September 23 at
04:02 UT. See
- Since you need a sunny day for shadow measuring, we
suggest you check your weather forecast and pick a day when you will
most likely have sun.
Week 4: September 25th - 29th
- Do the measurement when the sun is highest in the sky (at
your local noon time.)
the Data, Determining the Circumference and reporting your results
Week 5: October 2nd - 6th
and Final Report
*More about "pi" can be found at http://ciese.org/ciesemath/pi.html
- Much of the background for this project is included at
this website. Please familiarize yourself with this material.
- This website is a work in progress. My hope is to continue
to develop a very detailed, rich project that is flexible, but at the
same time captures the spirit of Eratosthenes' discovery. I will be
contributing regularly to our discussion board. I hope you find that
- We encourage you to participate in this project as much as
possible. We are interested in your methods, strategies, anecdotes, and
wild ideas. Please share your experiences with us. What makes this
project so special is that this is a collaboration. I am eager to make
this project work for you as best as possible and to learn from our
collective experiences so
we can keep on improving it.
- Stay tuned for daily updates. In the meantime let us know
something about your class, situation, etc. by posting a letter of
introduction in our
discussion area. There is no right or wrong way to do this. We are all
as we go along.
I'm very happy to have you join us on this adventure.
Coordinator Noon Day Project
© 2000-2006 Stevens
Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) All Rights