User login

Make a Sun Clock: Tell Time with the Sun

Source Institutions

    The Exploratorium

Add to listGo to activity
Make a Sun Clock: Tell Time with the Sun

Before there were clocks, people used shadows to tell time. In this outdoor activity, learners will discover how to tell time using only a compass, a pencil, a handy printout, and a sunny day. Along the way, learners discover the difference between solar and standardized time, and between geographic and magnetic north.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
    • Earth Structure
      • Earth's Magnetic Field
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Earth's Magnetic Field
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Murphy, Pat; Klages, Ellen; Shore, Linda; Gorski, Jason; Exploratorium


  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium, ©1997


User Lists

This resource is part of these lists: