Winter, spring, summer, fall--most students can name the seasons,
but few can correctly explain why there are seasons.
Static diagrams in textbooks, classroom demonstrations (such as
shining flashlights on globes) and videos can do only so much.
What if the student could actually create seasons by
manipulating the Earth itself? What if they could learn by
doing rather than watching? Seasons is designed
with just these capabilities in mind; Seasons is an
easy-to-use "what if" program for learning about...seasons!
Using Seasons, you and your students will be able to:
||View yearly cycles of temperature, daily solar energy, hours of daylight,
and Sun elevation. Students can watch vivid graphical
depictions showing the progression of the seasons in terms of these important
||Change the seasons by changing the Earth's axis tilt
and the shape of its orbit. The tilt of the Earth's axis
is responsible for seasons on Earth; changing the tilt leads
directly to changes in the amplitude of the seasonal changes
in temperature. Orbits that are far from round have effects
that only somewhat resemble the seasons on Earth. Your
students will quickly learn that eccentric orbits cause
seasons that differ from their knowledge of what seasons
should be like, helping to dispel the common misconception
that the Sun's varying distance causes seasons.
use of interactive explanation screens to explore the concepts underlying what they see happening on the Model
Display screen. Version 2 of Seasons greatly enhances
these, making use of 3D graphics to help convey the many concepts
that provide the foundation of understanding how seasons
||Save their Earth configurations and comments about
them in files you can assess. The Seasons Logbook allows students to reuse saved configurations,
print out tables and charts summarizing their seasons, and even
export the season model's data to spreadsheets.
Click on the pictures for enlarged views of the screens and use
your browser's Back button to return. Note that the enlarged
views are smaller than the screens would appear in reality, and that
the image quality is therefore a bit degraded.
||This is Seasons' Main Screen, on which you can
see the Earth moving around the Sun. The Earth's
colors are used to indicate the current temperature at
different latitudes. You can also show how daily solar
energy, hours of daylight, and noon Sun elevation depend on
latitude and season. The smaller charts show the
Earth's orbit, different views of the Earth, and a graph of
the selected variable at one or two latitudes. You can
even compare the graphs of consecutive runs
to show the changes from one configuration to another.
||Changing the Earth's tilt is as easy as clicking and
dragging the Earth's North Pole. For finer precision,
use the slider or type in the exact tilt you'd like to use.
The bottom left button conveniently sets the tilt to the
"Earth Normal" value of 23.5°.
The buttons at right take you to related interactive
dialogs, examples of which are shown below.
||If you've done the classic flashlight-on-the-globe
demonstration, you'll appreciate this interactive. In
it, a sunbeam of fixed cross-section strikes the Earth,
illuminating an oval with area that depends on latitude.
Sliding the beam north and south in latitude really shows
clearly how sunlight is concentrated differently. You
can also change the season to see how that affects the
sunlight. And of course, since this is in 3D, you can
tilt and rotate the Earth to get just the right view of
||If you want to see how the Sun's elevation changes
during the year, use this interactive. The view can be
tilted and rotated easily to show what's happening from any
perspective. You can also change the Earth's tilt and
the latitude to see how some places get a great amount of
nearly overhead sunlight, while other places never see the
Sun much above the horizon.
||Learning why some days are short and others are long is
crystal clear with this interactive. Look at the
winter solstice Earth on the left, and observe how little of
the latitude band is in sunlight. As the Earth spins,
any point on that band isn't going to be in sunlight for
long. Compare that to the summer solstice case at
right, where most of the band is in the sunlight; the day's
going to be much longer in this case. And to help make
this more interesting, of course you can change the Earth's
tilt and the latitude to see what that might do!
||The Logbook lets you see all four graphs at once, and
more. Your students can write comments about their
model results and save them to files for you to assess.
The Logbook also provides printouts of monthly values, and
you can export a year's worth of daily data in either text
or CSV format for use in spreadsheets.
If you'd like to see more sample screens, write us at
download the demo program.
Seasons has the following minimum requirements:
- Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP or Mac OS 10.3+. Windows 95
must be Service Release 2 or later.
Seasons runs on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.
- A processor speed of 500MHz or faster; 1 GHz or faster is
- Approximately 12 MBytes of free hard disk space
- A screen resolution of at least 800x600 pixels with 16-bit color
(SVGA mode); 1024x768 pixels with 24- or 32-bit color (XGA mode)
- Graphics adapter that supports 3D graphics hardware
acceleration. This is standard on most computers
- A CD-ROM drive (required for installation)
- Mouse or other compatible pointing device
- Printer capability is required if you wish to print out
Almost all PCs sold during the past several years meet these
requirements. We suggest that you download
the trial version if you would like to verify your system's
ability to run Seasons.
The Teacher's Guide for Seasons
is a PDF file than can be read with
Adobe Acrobat. The version available here omits the
answers to the questions posed within it; the Teacher's Guide you
receive with the software will contain the answers.
the link below will open the Teacher's Guide for viewing (if your
browser is so configured). To save the file, right click on
the link and choose the Save Target As... option.