Parts of how clocks work

How Clocks Work

Students are introduced to the elements necessary to keep track of time, and they are also exposed to a variety of time pieces. This activity is motivated by a Cyberchase episode in which the CyberSquad has to construct a clock of sorts in order to keep track of the amount of time they have to rescue Dr. Marbles. In an associated "For Real" segment, Harry introduces viewers to a wide array of clocks.

Grade Level:


Suggested Time

60 minutes

Media Resources

An Egyptian Clock QuickTime Video
A World Tour of Clocks QuickTime Video

Part I: Learning Activity

1. Students should work in pairs for this activity.

2. Tell the students that today's activity involves figuring out what can be used to make a clock to keep time.

4. Ask the students to complete Part 1 of the handout. As they complete Part 1, don't hesitate to prompt them with questions about the characteristics of time-keeping. Ask the students to discuss the various types of time-keeping methods they know about. Be ready to discuss or suggest the need for a steady beat, as well as the need to measure time passage and a way to record those measurements as time passes. If they want to predict events in time, they must also synchronize their own clock to the movement or change in the event. (Many treatments of time simply stop with the need for the steady beat.)

5. Tell the students that they will watch a video segment involving time and clocks and a rescue attempt.

6. Read the following: "The CyberSquad enters a pyramid in Egypt to search for Dr. Marbles and the Encryptor chip. They come to a passageway with a large stone door. It is slowly lowering as water drips out of two tall cylinders on either side of the door. They need to know how much time they have to find Dr. Marbles and get back out again. So they invent a clock. What are the essential elements in accurate measurement of time? Take notes, and write down the essential elements as you watch the video segment."

8. Discuss the elements of time-keeping that are represented in the video segment.

9. Tell the students that they will watch another video segment.

10. Read the following: "In the next video segment, there are lots of different types of clocks. Use Part 2 of the handout to write down as many types of clocks that you see in the video."

12. Discuss the various clocks the students saw in the video segment and the characteristics of each.

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