Countdown to Mystery Class: January 15, 2010

Today's Update Includes:

Countdown to Mystery Class: Two Weeks to Go!

Mystery Class is about to begin! Get ready to record your first sunrise/sunset times on Monday, February 1st. Then, on Friday, February 5th, we'll provide the first set of sunrise/sunset times from Mystery Sites around the globe.

This final Countdown to Mystery Class is designed to prepare you for a special set of clues called the "Longitude Clues." You'll receive the Longitude Clues in late March, just before the spring equinox. Also below, see an introductory activity you can use to introduce students to Mystery Class. Build suspense and assess students' background knowledge about key words and concepts using the word cards and diagrams provided.

Teacher's Practice Packet #2: Discovering Longitude Clues

As the spring equinox approaches, students will begin to explore information that will help them estimate where Mystery Classes are located east and west of the Prime Meridian. Using longitude clues that focus on sunrise times in Universal Time, students "do the math" to estimate longitude degrees for each Mystery Class. Through this hunt for longitude locations, students gain a greater understanding about the Earth’s daily and seasonal cycles.

Teacher Practice Packet#2 includes background information that will help you understand the science and math behind longitude clues, student worksheets that give step-by-step instructions for working with longitude clues, sample worksheets to use for reference, and the map used for plotting the east/west locations of Mystery Classes. With the information and worksheets you will be able to:

  • Build your understanding about how students discover information about the Earth’s daily and seasonal cycles when they are tracking down the east/west longitude locations of Mystery Classes.
  • Practice the math calculations students will do to estimate longitudes of Mystery Classes.
  • Examine the data to find connections and make predictions.
  • Reflect on questions and prepare for teaching using the Mystery Class journal.
The Essential Question:
On the spring equinox, how does sunlight data reveal clues about the longitude of the Mystery Class locations?


Preparing Students: Exploring Words and Diagrams
Word Cards Diagrams to Explore
(pg. 1)
Diagrams to Explore
(pg. 2)
Build suspense and assess students' background knowledge about key words and concepts using the word cards and diagrams above. Place one set of word cards and diagrams into an envelope for small groups to explore together. Introduce this activity by saying:

"In order to find the Mystery Classes hiding around the globe we are going to be looking at clues about sunrise and sunset times. How do you think information about sunlight will help us find specific places around the world? What will we need to know and understand in order to find the Mystery Classes? In this envelope you'll get a sneak peek at some of the things that are going to help us find Mystery Classes. With the students in your group, look carefully at the items in the envelope and talk about which items you think are going to be most helpful. Which items are familiar? Which items are peculiar and will require us to track down more information?"

As you give each group an envelope, remind students that as they explore the contents (words and diagrams), you will be walking around and listening for “sleuth-speak,” where students are asking lots of questions about each item in the envelope. Use guiding questions to assist students' exploration:

  • What information does this diagram show?
  • How are the diagrams alike? Different? Related?
  • Which words from the list would you use to describe information shown in each diagram? What title would you give for this diagram and why?
  • What clues on this diagram will help us understand the relationship between the sunlight and seasonal change?
  • How might we use this diagram to learn about locations of Mystery Classes?

Have students record a list of questions elicited by their exploration of the words and diagrams. Over the course of the season, revisit the diagrams and questions to assess students' understanding about the Earth's daily and seasonal cycles. Encourage students to draw their own diagrams to showcase their understanding. Post diagrams and word cards on a bulletin board or learning center to use for reference throughout your search for the Mystery Classes.

The FIRST Mystery Class Update Will be Posted February 1st.