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Let the Sky Lead the Way

Let the Sky Lead the Way

Have you completed the Mad About Maps activity sheet yet?

If so, you may have mastered the art of using a compass! Humans have developed many ways to tell directions including maps, compass and GPS.

But without these methods, could you tell which was is north?  You may have heard some tips to look out for in nature, such as:

– More moss will grow on the north side of a tree
– Spiders create webs on the south side of trees
– Snow will melt slower on the north side of a hill

While these can sometimes be true, this is not always a reliable way of telling direction.

by Meneer Zjeroen

You can tell directions easily in the early morning and evening since the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Try out these two activities to tell direction without the use of a compass!

The Shadow Method

Materials: 1meter long stick, large sunny area, two rocks.

Go outside on a sunny day. Put the stick into the ground and mark, using a rock, where the tip of the shadow is. After 15 minutes, come back and place another rock to where the shadow moved to.  The first rock marks the west, and the second marks east.

Next, draw a line between these two point. You can use string, a line in dirt, etc to do this.  Draw another straight line through the centre of your first line, at 90 degrees. This is north and south!

The Solar Compass
The solar compass is a method of tracking the sun that has been used for centuries, it was developed by the Babylonians who created the 12 hour clock. 
Draw a clock face similar to the photo below, including all the hours. Try to be accurate with their placement as it will make your compass more accurate.
Place a stick into the centre so that it is vertical (as if on the black dot above). Orient the page so that the shadow you see falls onto the current time. Be sure to use the proper scale (hint, during the summer we’re in daylight savings time!).  Once the shadow is aligned to the current time, the south in the diagram will be aligned to true south. You can determine where all the other directions are from this point on! 
Try out Mad About Maps activities again without a compass!
Three cheers for flying bats and awesome maps!

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