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Solar Geometry

longitudeMiddle school students learn about the Earth’s geometrical relation to the sun by calculating where the sun will be in the sky for any date or time given a particular location on Earth, such as their school. The three-activity module was developed by lighting engineer Tony Esposito, Ph.D., during his graduate studies at Pennsylvania State University and made available to eGFI Teachers.

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Lesson: Measure the Earth’s Circumference

In this project, students in grades 6-12 will recreate the remarkable measurement of the circumference of the earth first performed over 2,000 years ago. Using rulers, protractors, and meter sticks, students measure shadows cast by a stick on a day close to the equinox, then use that measurement in a simple equation to determine the circumference.

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Lesson: Geometry and Rubik’s Cube

Who can resist fiddling with the Rubik’s Cube, that enduring, colorful puzzle? In this lesson, as students in grades 9-12 learn to solve the cube, mixing up, then re-aligning each of its sides, they become acquainted concepts of solid geometry and practice skills of sequencing, memorization, and problem solving.

Holding the Rubik’s Cube, twisting and turning the parts, can help students of all ages grasp important math concepts including area, perimeter, volume, angles, algorithms and enumeration, among other geometry and algebraic topics. This sample lesson, drawn from, is one of several on the site that uses the cube to illustrate concepts of general mathematics, algebra, and geometry.

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Lesson: The Math of Sailboat Design

SailboatStudents learn about sailboat design and how the shape of sails affects their movement. They apply what they learn about sailboat design to their math lesson, which involves the basic postulate of right triangle trigonometry and the Pythagorean Theorem. The lesson provides a fun, hands-on way to demonstrate that the Pythagorean Theorem can be tested and proved.

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