South Orangetown Central School District

Cone and shadow lab at SOMS

Once a week, sixth graders in South Orangetown Middle School teacher Eric Goldstein’s science class head outside to collect data for a mini lab as part of their Astronomy unit.

For the Cone and Shadow lab, nicknamed the “Get Your Tilt On” lab, students spend several weeks collecting data that proves the Earth is tilted on its axis and rotates. Each week when students go outside, they collect several points of data including the time of sunrise and sunset, the length of daylight, the length of the shadow that appears, the angle of the sun above the horizon in degrees, the temperature at the time of the data collection, the distance from the sun in miles and the phase of the moon.

Through their data, students are able to see how the date of when they go outside affects the length of the shadow. From the time they begin collecting data in September to now, the length of the shadow increases while the angle of the sun above the horizon decreases.