Monday, 9 February 2009

Journey North

Spring is on its way! Not that there is any evidence of this as I glance out of the window at the persistent rain falling on the remains of last week's snowman, but we are starting our Journey North today and we are all excited.
The Journey North Mystery classes kept us hooked last year as we noted local sunrise and sunset, collected the online data on the 10 mystery locations, calculated the hours of sunlight in each place (the technical term being photoperiod) and plotted our graph. Immediately we could see whether our locations were north or south of the equator and gradually, as the weeks passed, we got a better idea of their latitude (how far north or south they lay). With the coming of the equinox we were able to calculate their longitude (how far round) and finally we got clues, photos or facts or teasers, until we figured out exactly where they were. And then we had a party, with food from the local area. Well, if you count carrot sticks for Santa's reindeer for the location near the north pole!It's not too late to join in and it could be just as much fun only tracking one or two locations. I felt that we had touched a fair bit of maths (subtraction, 24 hour clock, graph plotting) and a whole load of geography and science, all in one, fun, interactive and imaginative project. The best bit for me, was, week by week, watching the hours of sunlight increase, dawn recede, the evenings lighten and Spring arrive!

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