Measuring the Earth's Size Using the Sun's Altitude and The Responses

  • Received : 2012.04.09
  • Accepted : 2012.04.27
  • Published : 2012.04.30


This study was created to resolve the problems embedded in the formal measuring experiments to determine the earth's size in the current curriculum, to develop an updated measuring experiment to determine the earth's size and to establish its effect. For this study, pre-service elementary teachers, who had attempted the experiment of measuring the size of the earth when they were in middle school, performed the experiments in the existing national curriculum, and their responses, collected through in-depth interviews, were examined. To begin with, the pre-service elementary teachers conducted the experiment of measuring the earth size and they recorded the problems while performing it. At the end, an in-depth interview was administered. Based on the problems, an updated measuring experiment to determine the earth's size was suggested to be applied to the same contents and be analyzed through the in-depth interviews. Common themes which were mutually categorized and analyzed by the two researchers were obtained based on the records produced while conducting the experiment and the in-depth interview data. The teachers mentioned that the experiments for measuring the size of the earth in the current curriculum gave rise to difficulties in measuring precisely the angles between the string and the post. Also, there has been a scientific contradiction that solar altitudes were increased in a high latitude region, instead of decreased. For this reason, an alternative method has been developed to measure the earth's size using the distance and the solar altitude difference of two places. The teachers all agreed that by using the updated measuring experiment, they can acquire more precise measurements and it is easier, faster and consequently more effective than the existing methods. Through the results of this study, I suggest that the newly developed experiment by the researchers can overhaul the problems of the current experiments and it can be an effective alternative to the current experiment.