Mystery Class Revealed
When Bridges students from Shaw Island School saw a post here in January, they had to keep a secret. The blog entry, Mystery Class: Tracking Sunlight to Solve a Mystery, described an eleven week hunt in which students from around the world attempt to find mystery classes based on the changing amount of sunlight in each location. The Shaw School secret? They were designated mystery class site #10! Now students from Shaw School, our guest bloggers, share their experience with readers:
What it is...
The Journey North Mystery Class investigation is a citizen science program that is a global search for ten mystery locations. As the search for the sites begin, participants check the Journey North website each week to find the sunrise and sunset of each of the ten locations. From this, you can figure the length of the photoperiod for each location. As weekly photoperiods are gathered, you can then begin to guess the line of latitude each location may be on; understanding why seasons occur really helps with this! So along with figuring photoperiods, learning all about the tilt of the earth and how it changes throughout the year is also very helpful.
When the spring equinox occurs, it provides a clue to pinpoint lines of longitude, because on this special day there are 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of daylight around the world! By comparing sunrises to that of Greenwich, England, the location which the prime meridian runs through (the starting point of Universal Time), you can figure out how many degrees east or west of the prime meridian your mystery location is.
Shaw Island School was one of the Mystery Classes, so we got to make clues which participants used to help themselves find us. Writing the clues was hard! We started with general clues then worked our way down to more specific clues; we didn't want to make it too easy, but wanted it to still be a challenge -- a brain stretcher. We also made a video of a song we wrote.
Along with being a Mystery Class we also searched for the other 9 locations. Some were very challenging to locate and we learned so much about other cultures and geography. In our class, grades 1-4 participated, so the younger students were paired with an older student.
What it meant to us...
It was an honor and meaningful for us to participate in the Journey North program. An honor because only ten mystery sites per year are chosen, but also because as our class participated in the search for other locations, we were learning math, geography, and we were also increasing our technology skills! As an added bonus, we were building teamwork abilities. We think that participating made us better and smarter people!
Participation required us to use our math skills. We thought it was cool that we could use the strategy we learned in Bridges where we hop along a line using friendly numbers! The Spring Equinox involved some tricky calculations, but the older students were paired with the younger students, so all went well. We also marked photoperiods on a line plot so we could clearly see how some locations were gaining daylight, while others were headed towards winter. The location on the equator was almost a straight line! We attached a couple photos of the worksheets we used.
Do you recommend it?
We recommend this program to other students because it enhances math, science, social studies, and geography skills. It is also fun for both teachers and students alike!