Science Experiments

Trace the Shadows

Art by Alton Langford

Trace the ShadowsStand a plastic bottle on a piece of paper on a sunny sidewalk or driveway. Trace the bottle’s shadow onto the paper. Every hour or two, put the paper and bottle in the same position and trace the shadow again. Notice how the position of the shadow changes.

How It Works
The bottle blocks the light that comes from the Sun, creating a shadow on the paper. The shadow moves throughout the day as the Sun appears to move across the sky. The Sun really stays in the same place, but its position in our sky changes as the Earth spins. At the beginning and end of the day, the bottle's shadow is long because the Sun is shining on the bottle from the side. In the middle of the day, the shadow is shorter because the Sun is shining on the bottle from above.