Use the facts of why and how Earth rotates to build a worthy science project. One idea for a project is to demonstrate is how fast, approximately, Earth is spinning. Earth's "wobble" and how it affects the different times of sunset and sunrise is another idea to entertain. You may also demonstrate why a 24-hour day is based on the tilt and rotation of Earth and investigate whether different phases of the moon affect one's sleep latency.
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Demonstrate How Quickly Earth is Rotating
In this project from Education.com, an experiment to gauge how fast Earth is rotating is explained. It is recommended for high-school and upper middle-school students with science aptitude. Completion time for this science project is between one and two weeks, and could be scaled-down.
Materials needed are a clipboard, timer, data table (using graph paper or a spreadsheet computer program), protractor, timer and a pen/pencil. Also, having a math teacher or classmate who is very mathematically-inclined is recommended. To begin, have a peer stand outside in bright sunlight. Measure his shadow using millimetres and document the time and length of the subject's shadow. Repeat this every five minutes for one hour. (You need a very patient volunteer). Next, with the 12 documented measurements in-hand, divide each 12 measurements by the subject's height to determine the resulting triangle's slope.
Use a calculator to find the slope-value in the logarithmic table to determine the Earth/Sun angular relationships for each of the 12 recordings. With a protractor plot and document both the x and y-axis. The lines should correlate the difference in time and angle change. You will have an equation that reads "speed=distance ÷ time" and be able to present what the revolutionary speed of Earth in relation to the Sun really is.
Build a Presentation Describing How Earth's "Wobble" Affects Its Rotation
This project, from Education.com, is one for those with a little more time to complete. It will present changes in sunset and sunrise in relation to the Earth's daily rotating position, while observing its regular position and tilt angle. Make sure you have a mathematically-inclined assistant to check your facts.
Materials needed are a book, two metric rulers, tape, sheet of paper and protractor. First, check the exact times of sunrise and sunset via a local news website's weather channel for a history of three months. Next, using this data, calculate the distance change in relation to each day's exact time of sunrise and sunset for the first month. Using a piece of graph paper, plot Earth's first recorded position and compare the distance changes to each day as compared with the previous. Repeating the last two steps for months two and three, your project should yield an observable trend that shows Earth's wobble and why this could prove the fluctuating times of sunrise and sunset.
Do the Phases of the Moon in Relation to Earth's Rotation Affect Our Lifestyles?
For this project, the rhythmic, 24-hour biological cycle is tested to see whether the different phases of the moon, compared with Earth's rotation and to the Sun, affect sleeping hours and different peoples' sleep latency fluctuations (time required to fall asleep).
Supplies needed are a pot or pan, digital clock and metal spoon. Education.com calls for a three-month study; however, you might want to cut that time down if you face time constraints. Following is a work-a-around: Check your local news website's meteorology channel, or another source, and record a history of the times of dusk, moon phases and total duration of nights for a total history of about one month. Use multiple volunteers, average-out each subject's latency--in relation to the moon phases previously recorded--in a precise, professional document and chart.
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- NASA: Why is Earth rotating? Did it always have the same rotation period? Will it always have the same rotation period?
- Education: Estimation of the Speed of Earth's Rotation
- Education: How Earth's Wobble Affects the Rotation of Earth?
- Education: Do Phases of the Moon Affect Circadian Patterns in Mammals?