Middle School Earth Science Teacher Guide


Features 13 core activities covering the fundamental topics of weather & climate, seismology & topography, soil properties and more.

Night and Day

Lab Summary

Use a light sensor to measure the light level that falls on a simulated "earth's" surface as it turns through several rotations.


In this activity, students model one of the motions found in the solar system, rotation. They investigate the relationship between Earth's rotation and the cycle of night and day that we experience because of this rotation.

Students investigate the rotational motion of Earth while they:

  • Measure the intensity of light that reaches the light sensor during each portion of rotation
  • Interpret information about the cyclical nature of night and day by exploring a light intensity versus time graph
  • Gain skills and confidence in using scientific measurement tools, the light sensor, as well as the graphing capability of a computer to represent and analyze data


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Kinesthetically modeling night and day on the earth
  • Playing the role of the earth, rotating through a complete circle or series of circles while being illuminated by a lamp or flashlight
  • Playing the role of the sun by shining a lamp or flashlight on the "earth"
  • Measuring the light level that falls on the "earth's" surface as it turns through several

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Light Level Sensor


Can be used as an absolute reference by detecting and measuring light in LUX.

Your Bundle Options:

Option 1:

Middle School Earth Science Starter Bundle


The equipment bundle for teaching 11 of the 13 Middle School Earth Science Teacher Guide's labs.

Option 2:

Middle School Science Standard Sensor Bundle


This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 49 lab activities in the Middle School Science through Inquiry lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.