Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to school in Antarctica? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a place that sees the sun for months at a time? If so, you are not alone! Our sixth graders often pose the same questions when working on our annual “Mystery Class” Project.

Each year, Journey North (https://www.learner.org/jnorth/) hosts a project called “Mystery Class.” The purpose of this project is to demonstrate how locations (classrooms) around the world experience seasonal change. The method includes tracking each mystery location’s photoperiod, which is the amount of sunlight a location or organism receives. Students then compare their mystery location’s photoperiod with Birmingham’s photoperiod, providing students with their first clues: Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

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The project takes approximately 12 weeks to complete. Our sixth graders buddy up with their corresponding fifth grade team as Journey North begins to introduce Continent, Country, and eventually, City clues to identify their exact location. Latitude is found easily because we compare it with Birmingham’s. Longitude is a little more tricky as students have to calculate the time difference of their mystery location and the time of Greenwich, England, which is where the Prime Meridian is found. Once each team is certain of their location, we submit our guesses to Journey North. They host a reveal party and feature videos from these classrooms around the world! This is also a great exposure for students to see other cultural experiences.

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Check out our work in the past. You may notice  that as the vernal equinox approaches, each locations photoperiod will either begin to increase or decrease depending in which hemisphere they are located. Although this data looks simple, it provides a lot of clues!

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Stay tuned for our Mystery Class results this year. Last year, our sixth grade team identified 8 out of 10 locations correctly. The fifth grade team identified 9 out of 10 locations correctly, including the Rothera Research Station in Antarctica and a homeschooling family in Tanzania!

Jennifer Dunn

*To learn more about Advent Episcopal School, please visit our website: http://www.adventepiscopalschool.org