Grade 3 Comprehensive Curriculum Links Unit 6

Louisiana Studies

Activity 2:  Rotation and Revolution of Earth (GLEs:  1, 2, 5, 54, 55)

Materials List: lamp with open light bulb, mounted globe or inflatable globe, small sticker, science learning logs

Safety Note: Caution students to carefully hold the lamp from the base and not to touch the open bulb.

To begin the activity, students should generate questions they have about the movement of Earth based on the following SQPL (view literacy strategy descriptions) prompt. State the following: We have night and day because the Earth is always moving.  Write this statement on the board or any other medium of choice as it is being said.   Next, ask students to turn to a partner and think of one good question they have about the terms rotation and revolution based on this statement.  As students respond, write their questions on the board or chart paper.  If a question is asked more than once, the question should be marked with a smiley face to signify it is an important question.  When students finish asking questions, contribute your own questions to the list, if necessary.  As students are doing the following activity, have them record any answer that they may find on the board or chart paper next to the appropriate question.  


·     Students will simulate the rotation of Earth by using a flashlight and a globe.  Before beginning the activity place a sticker on Louisiana so that it is easier for students to denote when it is daylight in Louisiana and when it is dark. 

·     Direct one student to shine the flashlight on the globe and another student to hold the globe.  The student holding the globe should slowly spin the globe counter-clock-wise while the person holding the flashlight shines it on the globe. 

·     As the globe is spinning and it is night in Louisiana, ask the students if it is night or day in China.

·     Ask students how long they think that it takes Earth to make one complete turn on its axis?  (24 hrs.). Explain that this is what causes night and day.  Use the word rotation to describe the counter-clock-wise movement of the Earth on its axis.


·     Students will demonstrate the revolution of Earth around the Sun in a similar manner. To demonstrate a year, one student will use a lamp with an open bulb to represent the Sun while another student will hold a globe to represent Earth.  The student representing the Sun will stand still in the center of the room holding the lamp above their head while another student representing Earth with a globe completes a turn (revolution) around the Sun. 

·     Place a sticker on the mounted globe on the state of Louisiana to serve as a reference point. The Sun student should shine a flashlight on the sticker that was positioned on the globe.

·     The student with the globe should start to revolve very slowly counter-clockwise around the Sun, while rotating the globe counter-clockwise on its axis. Once this student starts to rotate and revolve around the Sun, have another student stand in this spot to mark the starting point of the revolution.  The teacher might need to assist the students as they rotate and revolve at the same time and monitor the position of the axis on the globe. This would also be a good time to further discuss the questions that students generated during the SQPL prompt regarding the terms rotation and revolution as they relate to night and day.

·     When the Earth has traveled about one-fourth of a revolution around the Sun, night and day should occur many times as Earth continues around the Sun.

·     When the revolution is one-half completed, Earth should be in front of the student standing in the spot where the revolution started.  The student should continue on until he/she reaches the starting point of the revolution.  Ask students how long do they think it takes Earth to make a complete revolution around the Sun. (365 ¼ days or one year)  

·     The procedure can be repeated with different students if they need more help in grasping the concept.

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Vermilion Parish Schools (Louisiana)

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