Sunshine Earth Scenario

Sunshine Earth Icon

In this scenario, students explore how the Earth’s rotation, tilt, and orbital pattern gives rise to the cycle of days, years, and seasons.  The scenario is highly configurable as teachers can pinpoint different GPS positions on the globe to simulate conditions on different parts of the planet.  Students can control the orbital position, exploring how this corresponds with calendar days.

The scenario uses a game framework where teams of students must maintain temperatures for multiple locations on the planet by adjusting the orbital position of the Earth in real time.  If they do not keep the system in balance, the Earth will heat or cool beyond liveable conditions, and they lose the round!

Scenario Screenshots

Sunshine Earth Screen

The long/lat of regions as well as other simulation parameters can be configured.

Sunshine Earth Screen

Students collaborate to enact an orbital pattern that challenges their understanding of day/night cycles and the changing seasons.

Sunshine Earth Screen

The simulation game starts with all regions of the earth at a moderate temperature.

Sunshine Earth Screen

The simulation game ends if one region of the earth grows too hot or cold.


References and Documentation

PDF download iconSunshine Earth Scenario – SMALLab Teacher Guide


PDF download iconSunshine Earth Scenario – Flow Teacher Guide


PDF download iconSunshine Earth Scenario – Flow Quick Start Guide


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Author Information

SMALLab Learning

SMALLab Learning & Ephiphany Cathedral School

This scenario was co-created with faculty and staff at Epiphany Cathedral School in Venice, FL as part of our Professional Development By Design program. Qianyu Liu lead the implementation of this scenario.

Established in 1959, Epiphany Cathedral School is accredited through the Florida Catholic Conference and is a member of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA). Epiphany has been providing children in preschool through grade eight with a quality, faith-filled education for over 50 years!  This award winning school is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and has been voted “Best Private School in Venice.” Epiphany Cathedral School focuses on the Academic, Spiritual and Character Formation of each of its students and provides a nurturing family-oriented atmosphere.

SMALLab Learning was founded in 2010 with the mission of advancing embodied learning in schools and museums.  Our work builds from years of research by an interdisciplinary team of dedicated faculty and graduate students at Arizona State University’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering. For more information, please visit the About Us page.