Portable Sundial

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Learners construct one or more of the following kinds of sundials: a shadow plot, a horizontal sundial, and a diptych sundial. They track the position of the sun during the course of a day, and use their sundials over the course of several days or even weeks. Learners investigate the accuracy of sundials and the discrepancy that lies between "real time" and "clock time."

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 piece of large white paper
  • pencil width wooden dowel (or similar) 30-38 cm (12"-15")
  • ball of clay
  • duct tape, eight 3" strips
  • permanent marker
  • timer
  • small wooden disk
  • 3/4"-1" nail
  • pencil
  • pen
  • pair of scissors
  • index card
  • hammer
  • protractor
  • sheet of paper
  • (optional) string
  • wood glue
  • template for diptych assembly
  • 1 piece of heavy paper
  • glue
  • string, preferably elastic


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Days
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2013