How Can We Use the Sky to Navigate?
How Can We Use the Sky to Navigate? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 5 standards. It has a focus on earth and space science with a secondary focus on physical science and engineering. In this module, students:
- Develop and use models to support an argument that gravity is directed toward the center of a spherical Earth
- Use evidence of the Sun and stars’ daily pattern of motion to support a claim that Earth rotates on an axis
- Use a model to predict the annual pattern of daylight at the school’s location
- Carry out an investigation to determine which of two solutions is better for measuring the altitude of Polaris
- Engage in argument about the plausibility of sailing long distances without instruments by using evidence that the patterns of the Sun and stars can be used to navigate
Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.
Sailboats at the Horizon
This file shows two images of a sailboat at the horizon, one taken while the photographer was sitting and one while the photographer was standing.
Cargo Ship at the Horizon
This video shows a cargo ship so far away that only part of the ship is visible.
This is a close-up image of a cargo ship similar to the one in the Cargo Ship at the Horizon video.
Earth Shape Discussion
This file presents a discussion between two friends about Earth’s shape.
This video was taken in Hawaii in the month of May when the Sun passed directly overhead. Encourage students to observe the objects and ignore the captions.
Boston and Santiago Shadows
These two photos show the shadows made by the same upright dowel in Santiago, Chile, and Boston, Massachusetts, at noon on March 21.
Ball Drop around the World
Download video from Antarctica
Download video from Arizona
Download video from Australia
Download video from England
Download video from New Zealand
Download video from Singapore
Download video from Tanzania
Download video from Tokyo
These videos show people dropping balls from different locations around the world.
This link is the login for Starry Night®. Use the access code to gain access to the program. The software shows the sky at the selected time, date, and location. If you need support using Starry Night®, call 1-866-688-4175 or email email@example.com.
This photo shows street lights that vary in apparent size because they are located at different relative distances from the photographer.
Earth from Space
This picture of Earth taken from space shows half of Earth lit by the Sun and half of Earth in the dark.
Solar Position Calendar
This links to a calculator that can be used to determine the altitude of the sun in the sky for a given location, date, and time.
This file shows the set-up for the Lesson 8 activity.
Sunrise and Sunset
This link provides daily sunrise and sunset times for a given location. Convert a p.m. time to a military time by adding 12 hours to it.
Latitude and Longitude
This file includes resources to teach students about latitude and longitude.
This video reviews the concepts of latitude and longitude.
This file shows students how to use the sextants they will build.
This file shows the distances students will measure to test their solution and questions for students to consider when analyzing their test.
This file shows students an example of weaving with construction paper.
Marquesas Islands and Peru Map
This map shows the relative locations of the Marquesas Islands, Peru, and 10° south latitude.
Sweet Potato Mystery
This file describes recent research about the relationship between sweet potatoes in Polynesia and sweet potatoes in South America.
Drinking Water Problem
This file provides details to consider the problem of providing enough drinking water to crew members sailing from the Marquesas Islands to Peru.
Kit Tips & Tricks