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Name: Johnny Angel
Status: Educator
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
I'm trying to come up with a first grade explanation for why it is cold in November though the sun is bright. I know how to explain the earth's tilt and rotation to older students, but I was wondering if you have a good six-year-old explanation for this. Thank you!



Replies:
Johnny,

You might try talking about the reduction in the quality of the incoming light by something simple. In a darkened room, have one student use a flashlight to read a section of newsprint where the central beam from the flashlight is not blocked and light from it is adequate to light to the distance where the newsprint is placed. Then, use some cardboard to mask off the central part and one side of the flashlight "active end" and try to connect it to how the sun, appearing at a different angle and delivering effectively less solar radiation to us, results in the coolness. In this case, your newsprint, held at the same distance with only the smaller window of light emanating from the flashlight, and have the same set of eyes attempt to read a different passage of news. Though the temperature change is not communicated, they will understand how the light from the flashlight is 'weaker', and even though the difference is not apparently great, there is a greater challenge to see. You will have to toy with the setup to assure you can produce the results you seek. Assuming you can, you just then have to teach them about how sunlight produces light and heat, and toss in a discussion about day length and then effect of total incident light as an energy source in summer vs. winter. Good luck.

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