Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Clocks Fall Back

I am determined not to miss the clocks "falling backwards" this year.  It's already happened in the UK so I have been warned. It's been so warm and un-fall-like recently that it's easy to miss the event. I completely missed the "Springing forward" because it was such a dark and dismal time of the year this year.

The changing of the clocks in Spring and Fall is one of the most difficult concepts to teach young children. It's such an abstract thing and yet it affects everyone. Time, in hours and minutes, is a man-made construct. It's really the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis that gives us day and night. The two things are related but not "glued" together, so to speak. We can "slide" the hours and minutes construct/scale back and forth on the Earth-related time scale to optimize the daylight time available to us. Here's a neat web-site that shows day and night as it's actually happening as well as the time anywhere in the world. Put a small piece of "post-it" on your monitor screen next to the line that shows night-time and leave the website up for half an hour or so. When you return to the screen you'll see how much it has changed.

Here's another web-site that shows you the time instantly anywhere in the world. It's very difficult for children to grasp the idea that it can actually be tomorrow or yesterday at this very moment somewhere else in the world. In fact, a fourth grade student once asked me if he went to Australia and watched a horse race and flew home could he bet on the winner he had seen win the race and win the bet because he had watched it yesterday which was really now!

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