By contributing writer Marci
Before clocks and watches, if you wanted to know what time it was, you checked the local sundial. From ancient times, people used sunlight and pillars to cast shadows on the ground. These shadows were measured and adjusted for the time of year. Those measurements were used to tell the time of day.
A great summer project for you and your kids is making a sundial of your own. You can make one with a few household items and work together to get an accurate measurement of time.
How to Make a Sundial
- paper plate
- clay or play dough
Make Your Sundial
First, poke a hole in your paper plate the same size as your straw. Push the straw through the plate and turn the plate upside down. When you put the plate down, the straw should be standing up straight. If the straw is falling over, use the clay or play dough to support the straw.
Calibrate Your Sundial
Set your plate in the sun. Note the time and mark it on the plate in pencil where the shadow is. Do this every half hour or hour during daylight hours. It might take 2 days to get all your times recorded. (If the weather is windy, use a rock or other heavy object to hold the plate in place.)
When you get your daylight times recorded, you can write the times in marker and decorate your sundial with colored markers if you wish.
Your sundial will be accurate for a while, but as seasons change and the orbit of the sun changes, your sundial will have to be re-calibrated or you can make a whole new one!