Investigating Shadows


Investigating Shadows — What do you notice about shadows at different times of the day?


  • Chalk (or lots of little sticks or other natural materials that won’t blow away)
  • An object to watch its shadow (or your can use yourself)
  • Paper (or your science journal)
  • Pencil 
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • An adult or someone in your family to help

What to do:

  • Place your object in a spot outside first thing in the morning on a sunny day.  Be sure this object has plenty of space on all sides and will not be disturbed.  
    • Example spots where this can work:
      • The middle of a driveway
      • A field
      • Any area that gets a lot of sun and has lots of open space
    • If you are going to look at your own shadow, be sure you mark the spot you stand so you can return to this spot later.  Also, be sure you have someone trace or outline your shadow for you.
  • After you have placed your object, draw a line of chalk around the shadow or outline the shadow with sticks.
    • Draw what you see in your science journal
      • Label your drawing and include any important aspects:

  • Time of day
  • Location of the sun (direction and reference points, like a landmark)
  • Direction of the shadow
    • You can use the compass on a smartphone if you have access to one or an actual compass if you know how to use one (or if someone at home can teach you how to use one)
  • Length of shadow (to the nearest inch)
  • Come back to your object every hour, 5 more times.  This means you will come out and look at the shadow 6 total times.  
    • Repeat the same steps in your science journal each time
  • After you have collected all of your data, create a graph that shows your information.  Set up your graph like this:
  • Lastly, write a paragraph that explains what you have noticed.  Don’t forget to provide evidence in your statement!
  • Here are some ideas that you can write about:
    • What did you notice?
    • What have you discovered?
    • What do you know about shadows based on what your data shows?
    • What conclusions can you make about shadows based on what you completed in your experiment?
    • How do you know this happens?
    • What predictions can you make now about shadows?
  • Post your results on Facebook and tag us @VINS.VT!

Contact with questions or comments.