DIY Sundial: A Fun Science Project for Kids

How to Make a Sundial: A Fun DIY Science Project for Kids

In this exciting DIY science project, we’ll delve into the concept of time and its connection to the sun’s movement across the sky. This hands-on activity is perfect for elementary and middle school students, making STEM learning at home an enjoyable experience. We’ll explore how sundials work and provide step-by-step instructions to create your very own sundial.

Materials Required:

  • Cardboard or thick paper
  • Protractor
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Stick or dowel
  • Tape or glue
  • Permanent marker


  1. Prepare the Base: Cut a circular piece of cardboard or thick paper with a diameter of approximately 10 inches.
  2. Mark the Hours: Using a protractor, divide the circle into 12 equal sections, representing the hours on a clock. Mark each section with a pencil.
  3. Create the Gnomon: Cut a stick or dowel approximately 8 inches long. This will serve as the gnomon, the part of the sundial that casts the shadow.
  4. Attach the Gnomon: Tape or glue the gnomon to the center of the cardboard base, ensuring that it stands straight up.
  5. Label the Hours: Write the numbers 1 to 12 on the cardboard base, corresponding to the hour marks you made earlier.
  6. Align with the Sun: Place your sundial in an open area where it will receive direct sunlight. Adjust the gnomon until the shadow falls on the 12 o’clock mark when the sun is at its highest point in the sky (usually around noon).
  7. Observe and Record: Throughout the day, observe how the shadow moves across the sundial. Mark the positions of the shadow at different times, and you’ll notice that the shadow aligns with the corresponding hour marks as the sun moves.

Understanding How Sundials Work:

Sundials work based on the principle of the Earth’s rotation and the sun’s apparent movement across the sky. As the Earth rotates on its axis, different parts of the planet experience sunlight at different times. The gnomon on the sundial casts a shadow that falls on different hour marks as the sun’s position changes throughout the day.

Educational Benefits:

  • STEM Learning: This project combines science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, making it an excellent educational activity for kids.
  • Hands-On Experience: Building a sundial provides a hands-on learning experience, allowing kids to understand abstract concepts through practical application.
  • Time and Measurement: Kids learn about the concept of time and how it can be measured using the movement of the sun.
  • Problem-Solving: The project encourages problem-solving skills as kids troubleshoot any challenges they encounter during construction.


Creating a sundial is a fun and educational activity that brings together science, creativity, and hands-on learning. By following these simple steps, kids can build their own sundial and gain a deeper understanding of how time is measured and how the sun’s movement affects our daily lives. So, gather your materials, head outdoors, and let the sun guide you on this exciting STEM adventure!

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