Project Organization and Timeline
Project Flow: Analyzing Data

Cathie Plaehn
5th grade
Tiffany Creek Elementary
Boyceville, Wisconsin

Teamwork & Solving the Mystery Class Mystery
Attempting to locate the Mystery Classes is one of the most integrated components of Journey North. Included are math, when calculating the photo period; science, when connecting clues referring to plants or animals; social studies, when given historical or geographic clues; and reading to research any of the above information. As a teacher you will need to remain flexible and learn with your students.

Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing to calculate photoperiods can begin at any point before February. You will spark their curiosity if you begin practice before the winter solstice, when they initially will see the least sunlight, and then begin seeing the increase in daylength.

Finding Local Sunrise/Sunset Data
It is important from the beginning to find a consistent source for your local sunrise and sunset data to use as a comparison. There is a variance between TV channels and newspapers within a city, whichever you choose use the same source throughout.

An excellent source for local sunrise and sunset data can be found from the University of Michigan's website:

Working Together
There are 10 Mystery Classes, which lends itself to using small cooperative groups for this activity. Generally, I use one of the classes as a model to demonstrate the thinking processes for locating a class.

Every group will need a Datasheet as found on the Journey North website, and a plan for organizing the informational clues that will be coming.

My students kept losing their data and clues from one week to the next until I came up with this idea: I make folders for each Mystery Class group and hang them on the bulletin board. The Datasheet is kept inside. And when the clues start coming in March, I actually glue or staple them to the outside of the folder so they don't get lost. Another helpful suggestion is to use a large (3 x 3) classroom photoperiod wall graph using butcher block paper to plot all classes, which is beneficial as you try to locate classes in relationship to each other. (Click on Photos to enlarge).

Now You're Ready for the Data to Come
The first few weeks the students are given data to calculate the photoperiod of each class. As a pattern emerges students are able to make their first prediction --"is it in the northern or southern hemisphere?" This will become evident as the amount of sunlight increases (northern) or decreases ( southern). Students will also be able to predict whether their class is near the equator, if the angle on their graph is small, or farther away, if the angle has a greater slope. They will also see your own class in relationship to the Mystery Classes.

Narrowing the Search with Clues
Mid-March informational clues begin, which vary from historical events to local plants vegetation. Because of the variety of clues, the more resources your students are familiar with and you have available the better. Encyclopedias, atlases, and almanacs are generally good places to start. Encourage your students to use a variety of sources including the internet and people.

As the information comes remind your students to build onto the information they already have, they should not treat each clue as separate. They will begin narrowing in on an area, then more specifically a city. Some will come easily and some may never be precisely located. Encourage them to make the best prediction they can, given the information they have.

Final predictions are submitted giving city, country, latitude and longitude. There are many excellent CD-roms which can give the specific latitude and longitude by inputting the city, as well as WWW sites.

If you have tips you'd like to share, please write to Journey North: