spring equinox seasons

What Makes the Seasons? {Spring Equinox Science Experiment}

Have your kids ever asked you what makes the seasons?

The days are finally getting longer around here and the snow is almost gone, which is making us all slightly giddy. After a long, cold winter, the spring sunshine feels GOOD.

A few weeks ago, I prepared a little lesson to teach my boys about the spring equinox, and what makes the seasons. We ran a quick little experiment to visualize how the tilt of the earth makes it summer, fall, winter and spring in different parts of the world.

spring equinox seasons

It was a great way for them to see why we have seasons and I think it’ll really stick with them.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Orange
  • Marker
  • Pencil or Wood Skewer
  • Pushpin
  • At Least 2 People

First, grab your orange (the “earth”) and label the equator and Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Place the pushpin approximately where you live. Push the pencil or skewer through the center of the orange – this will act as the earth’s axis.

Now, assign one kid to hold the flashlight in the center of the room – he/she is the sun. Kid number two will hold the earth and move in a wide circle around the sun. The person with the flashlight keeps it pointed at the orange as it moves around the circle.

spring equinox seasons

The MOST important part of this experiment is to make sure whoever is holding the earth is keeping it tilted slightly, with the top tilted towards them and bottom tilted away from them. The trickiest part of this activity is making sure the earth remains tilted in the same direction as their body moves around the sun. So, on the opposite side of the circle, the top of the orange will be tilted away from them and the bottom will be tilted toward them.

On opposite sides of the circle, have the person holding the earth pause and note which hemisphere is receiving more light. As the earth moves around the circle, you’ll be able to see the sun hit each hemisphere differently – full strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our summer), partial strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our fall), full strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our winter), and partial strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our spring).

You can also ask them to make the earth rotate as it moves around the circle (this requires slightly more hand-eye coordination, a little trickier for smaller kids). observing night and day.

For more reading on the spring equinox and seasons, we loved these books:

The Reasons for Seasons

A New Beginning – Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox

spring equinox seasons

Happy Spring, friends!

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