sun Proportions - Measure height using shadows - do it yourself

1. Gather some information about scale and proportions
Watch MathFLIX videos: Introduction | Lamp Post | Lighthouse | Tree

2. Identify 3 objects whose height you could measure using this method.
For this exercise, the objects should be taller than you. The objects could be in your yard, your school's yard, or in a local park.


3. Think Carefully:

Make a list of tools you will need to do an actual shadow measurement of these objects. Include EVERYTHING!


How might a rope or a large ball of string be a helpful tool for doing these measurements?


Identify a poor time of day for doing a shadow measurements. Why would it be a bad time?


Not sure? Then conduct an observation. On a sunny day - Begin at at 8am. Poke a stick in the ground in an open area. Choose a spot where the stick will be in the sun all day, but will not be in the way of other people. The stick should be close to or standing straight up (perpendicular to the ground).

Once each hour for 6 hours - go outside. Observe the shadow. Use another meter stick or yard stick to measure the shadow's length.

Remember the drawings the teachers used in the Proportion videos?
Draw a simple diagram showing the shadow and the stick each time. Pay careful attention when drawing the shadow.

Consider the data and the drawings. What have you found?


4. Whether you like it or not, the weather will play a role in whether you can do your observations.



5. Take your tools outside. Make your measurements.

How tall is the tallest tree on the property?

How tall is the tallest structure?


Further thinking:

Using Proportions to solve problems

Map and inventory trees in your community

Weather data - High temperatures

Watering Milkweed - Spreadsheet activity

Water Studies Precipitation and Population

Scientific Method - Quiz

Steps of the Scientific Method

Elbow Room - exploring population density

Considering Systems and Controls activity

USGS Science Resources

Learn more about measuring scale

Teaching with data

A Dictionary of Units of Measurement

The Futures Channel - careers in architecture & design

meter ruler

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