Latitude Activities for Kids - Make an Astrolabe

Earth Science Unit Study

Week 7: We learned how latitude affects climate and created astrolabes to measure our latitude on the Earth.

This short video emphasizes five important latitudes. The Equator at 0 degrees, Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn at 22.5 degrees north and south and the Arctic and Antarctic circles at 66.5 degrees.

After watching the video and before beginning the project it was important for the kids to understand degrees, so we had a short math lesson. With a protractor under them, they had to turn their bodies to face 0 degrees, 90 degrees, 180 degrees and 270 degrees with a little jumping game. Then we looked at how degrees on a protractor relate to degrees of latitude.

Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Earth Science: Winning Experiments for Science Fairs and Extra Credit has tons of projects we plan to complete in conjunction with our Earth Science study.

We began with the simple project of creating dough balls to represent the Earth and using embroidery floss to mark the different latitudes.

Next, using a protractor, cardboard, straw, scissors, tape and a key chain for a weight we created astrolabes.
The project was very simple and took less than 30 minutes to complete.

First the protractors were traced onto cardboard and cut out. A small hole was created at the center.

A string was fastened in place to the hole and a straw was slit and placed on the top for a sight.

The cardboard was marked from 0 to 90 degrees. 0 degrees was at the bottom and 90 was near the straw.

To determine latitude, the north star is sighted through the straw and the angle where the string crosses is read from the astrolabe. That angle is latitude. Although it wasn't very accurate, it worked well. We measured Germany to be around 50 degrees north on the globe and also on the astrolabe. 

This post is linked to:
We Made That

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  1. Oh we made those once is a great math activity for the kids

  2. What a great activity for kids! Lots to learn!

  3. Such fun activities; we're studying the globe and lines of latitude and longitude right now!

  4. Great idea! My son's obsessed with the direction on the compass these days! #practicalmondays


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