The Real Reasons for Seasons
Sun-Earth Connections

Grades 6—8

Written by Alan Gould, Carolyn Willard,
and Stephen Pompea

The seasons come and then pass by
Can you explain the reasons why?

As it turns out, most people can't! Research shows that understanding and explaining the causes of seasons can be challenging for people of all ages.

A classic example: The video A Private Universe, a production of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Science Education Department, Science Media Group, includes interviews with Harvard graduates whose explanations for the seasons are filled with mistaken assumptions!

Never fear--help is here! This GEMS guide is aimed at helping students arrive at a clear understanding of seasons as they investigate the connections between the Sun and Earth. Along the way, students take a "Trip to the Sun," determine the real shape of the Earth's orbit, evaluate actual data on world temperature and hours of sunlight in different locations, and model how the angle at which sunlight hits the Earth affects its concentration.

Throughout these engaging activities, students gain important standards-based science and mathematics content and develop abilities essential in scientific investigation. A CD-ROM, included with this guide, offers a rich collection of helpful resources, software programs, and web links.

This guide was developed in partnership with the NASA Office of Space Science Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (SECEF). For further astronomical teaching opportunities, see the GEMS guides
Earth, Moon, and Stars, Moons of Jupiter, Living with a Star, Invisible Universe, and Messages from Space.

Praise for The Real Reasons for Seasons
"I am excited and eager to try this book with my own students, both at the college level and during our summer resident astronomy camps. This book should be on the shelf of every middle school teacher, whether they teach science or not. What a find!"

—National Science Teachers Association Recommends

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Literature Connections

Astronomy Education Review on The Real Reasons for Seasons:
"This ... book is an excellent vehicle to aid students in the process of exploring why Earth experiences different seasons during the year. It is a great follow-up to another GEMS book, Earth, Moon, and Stars…"

—Astronomy Education Review

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price



8 Activities,
140 pages, CD-ROM included


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