Physics KS3 / KS4: Days, Years and Seasons on Earth

Tim Peake introduces Prof. Brian Cox who explains why there are days and years on Earth.

The seasons are linked to the 23° tilt of the Earth’s axis.

There is a time-lapse animation of the Earth throughout the year showing the northern hemisphere pointing towards the sun during its summer and pointing away from the sun during its winter.

There are a collection of surprising facts about planets orbiting the sun.

Mercury is the closest and fastest reaching a speed of 200,000 kmph.

On Venus a day is longer than a year due to its extremely slow rotation.

Neptune has such a long year that it hasn’t yet completed an orbit since it was discovered in 1846.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

Could be used to introduce the idea of days, years and seasons.

Students could research and explain, produce posters or perform a class presentation on what causes the seasons on Earth and their effect on weather and people.

Students could research and explain, produce posters or perform a class presentation on the length of days and years of all the planets in the solar system.

They could spot and analyse patterns in the length of a planet’s year and its distance from the Sun.

Key Stage 4/GCSE

Could be used to recap the idea of days, years and seasons.

Students could be challenged to explain why different planets orbit at different speeds and take different amounts of time.

Students could calculate the length of a year on each planet if they are given the planets’ speed and distance from the Sun – or visa versa.

Students could investigate the relationship between distance from the Sun and orbital speed or length of a year (Keppler’s Third Law) by plotting an appropriate graph.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Physics/Science at KS3, Key Stage 4/GCSE in England Wales and Northern Ireland. Also at Third Level, National 4/National 5 and Higher in Scotland.

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