Middle School Earth Science Teacher Guide


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


Lab Summary

Use a light sensor to investigate the relationship between the earth's tilt on its axis, its revolution around the sun, and the seasons.


In this activity, students investigate the relationship between the earth's tilt on its axis, its revolution around the sun, and the seasons while they:

  • Measure the intensity of light that reaches the light sensor when the earth’s north polar axis is pointed toward the sun and away from the sun
  • Interpret information about the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface depending on the angle at which the light strikes the surface 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:

  • Constructing an accurate paper model of the earth tilted on its axis
  • Constructing the equator, the polar axis, the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn, and the angle of tilt off the polar axis
  • Modeling the sun with a flashlight directed at the paper model of the earth
  • Modeling the seasons by varying the earth's position relative to the flashlight to represent two of the four important dates in the year — September equinox and March equinox
  • Positioning the light sensor at the Tropic of Cancer to measure light intensity from the flashlight at the two dates represented
  • Recording light intensity as a function of the angle at which it strikes the light sensor

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.