Can you tell the time with your own DIY sundial? For many thousands of years people would track the time with a sundial. Make your own sundial at home or in the classroom from a paper plate and a pencil. All you need are a few simple supplies and a sunny day to get started. We love fun, hands-on STEM projects for kids!
MAKING A SUNDIAL FOR KIDS
HOW TO MAKE A SUNDIAL
There are many types of sundials, most contain a ‘gnomon’, a thin rod that makes a shadow onto a dial, and a flat plate. The first ever sundial was created more than 5,500 years ago.
The movement of the sun and shadow across the sundial is the result of Earth’s rotation on its axis. As our planet spins, the sun appears to move across the sky, when really we are the ones who are moving! A sundial works because as the sun’s position seems to move in our sky, the shadow it casts will align with lines marking each hour, telling us the time of day.
Make your own sundial with our simple instructions below and then take it outside to tell the time. It doesn’t matter which way your sundial faces if it is in full sun. An easy way to set it up is by starting it on the hour and then making a mark on the plate, at regular intervals.
MAKE A SUNDIAL
Can you tell what time it is by using the sun? Let’s find out!
- Paper plate
- Sunny day
STEP 1: Using your pencil, mark the center of your paper plate and then poke your pencil through it.
STEP 2: Start your experiment at noon if possible.
STEP 3: Place your plate and pencil sundial on the ground outside in sunlight. Place it somewhere you can leave it for several hours.
STEP 4: Mark the shadow with the number 12 to begin.
STEP 5: Set a timer and check on your sundial at different intervals during the day. Mark the time and placement of the pencil’s shadow to tell what time it is.
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TELL THE TIME WITH A SUNDIAL
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