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Making a Sundial


Paper plate | Straw | Ruler | Tape | Marker | Watch or clock

Gardeners watch the sun, not necessarily the clock. The location of the sun in the sky, and the effect of the sunlight on the plants, is really important in gardening.

But you can keep track of the sun's patterns AND the time, the way people have done for thousands of years. Make a sundial!

For this activity, you have to be ready to go outside precisely at noon, and be free to go back outside at exactly 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and so on, to mark the hours on your sundial "clock."

Gardeners might have to arrange to return to your location at different hours of the morning and afternoon to complete the clock, since your garden club meeting probably won't last 14 hours or more!

Here's how to make a simple sundial:

1.        Turn the paper plate upside down.

2.        Use the ruler to find the center point - measure the plate in several directions and mark a dot on the center point with the marker.

3.        Use the ruler to draw a line halfway across the paper plate, from one edge to the center.

4.        Carefully poke a hole in the paper plate with one sharp end of the scissors.

5.        Stick the straw through the hole.

6.        Tilt the straw so that it is leaning over the line that you drew. You may have to tape it so that it will stay tilted.

7.        Tape the straw to the plate around the top of the hole, and along the bottom of the plate, so that it will stay in place.

8.        At noon, take the sundial outside and place it so that the shadow of the straw falls directly on the line.

9.        Tape the sundial to a flat area on the ground, using tape or a few rocks so it won't blow away.

10.     Mark the number "12" next to the line.

11.     Come back out at exactly 1 p.m. and mark a "1" on the edge of the plate where the shadow falls.

12.     Continue on the hour through the rest of the afternoon, and the next morning.

It'll be interesting to watch how your sundial works as spring moves into summer, and summer moves into fall.

By Susan Darst Williams www.KidsGardenClub.org Nature Ed 02 2010

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