Eratosthenes experiment

Author: Eric VAYSSIE

Students from 30 schools measured the circumference of the Earth, reproducing Eratosthenes experiment during the lockdown drill.

  • An historical experiment
  • A hands on activity
  • A pedagogical project
  • Home activities during the lockdown drill

An historical experiment

It was in 205 B.C., the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes, at the time Director of the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt, proposed a purely geometrical method to measure the circumference of the Earth. He used the observation of shadows made at two different places, Alexandria and Syene (now Aswan).

Historical measure

A hands on activity

The students used simple materials for this collaborative experiment: 2 vertical sticks at 2 different places at the surface of our planet. Then, the students exchanged their results to calculate the circumference of the Earth with a simple method, drawing a Geogebra geometric figure.

April 21st experiment

A pedagogical project

La main à la Pâte” Foundation propose this project since 2000. It is supported by the French Academy of Sciences. [“La main à la Pâte” participates to Scientix 2 as National Contact Point]. Topics covered in this project are, of course, physics and technology, but also geography, history, and oral communication during videoconferences, for instance.

Activities during the lockdown drill

Students and teachers from 30 schools over 4 continents participated in this collaborative problem-solving activity since the 18th of March.

List of schools

The students and teachers exchanged the data on the Eratosthenes 2020 TwinSpace, on eTwinning platform. Finally, they published the Eratosthenes experiment during the lockdown drill in their journal (see below).

The students

Students and/or project partners provided the photos to the author (with blurred faces of students) – Attribution CC-BY.

3 thoughts on “Eratosthenes experiment”

  1. Thank you very much for the wonderful material made! We are proud to participate in an international project of such scientific, collaborative, engaging and wonderfully coordinated scope by the project’s founder, Eric Vayssie from France.

  2. Thank you very much for the wonderful material made!I’m from Brazil. We are proud to participate in an international project of such scientific, collaborative, engaging and wonderfully coordinated scope by the project’s founder, Eric Vayssie from France.

  3. Thank you for our meetings at solar noon!
    Especially, during the lockdown, this activity made by students at home without a teacher’s help was very good practice for them triggering to search for the error factors of their measurements.

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