Earth's Rotation: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tiffany Hightower

Tiffany is a certified elementary school teacher. She has a B.A. in English, education certification and a master's degree in education from Central Michigan University.

Have you ever wondered how and why the earth rotates? This concept has caught the interest of many scientists over hundreds of years. In this lesson, you'll discover interesting facts about Earth's rotation.

What Is Rotation?

Do you enjoy watching basketball? Have you ever seen a basketball player do a trick by spinning the ball on his or her finger? The spinning ball rotates similar to the way the earth rotates.

Rotation is when something turns or spins around a point located at its center. Earth has an imaginary axis or a line, that starts at the top of the earth at the north pole and goes completely through Earth's center and ends at the south pole.


It's represented by the red line in this image. The Earth spins on this axis. It takes the earth twenty-four hours to do a complete spin on its axis.

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  • 0:03 What Is Rotation?
  • 0:44 Day and Night
  • 2:09 Other Facts About…
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
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Day and Night

When the Earth spins or rotates, the part of the earth facing the sun has light, which causes daytime there. The other side of the earth will be facing away from the sun, which causes darkness and nighttime there. Therefore, one side of the earth isn't always light or dark.

Sun and Rotation

Look at the image of the sun shining on part of the earth. Australia is on the opposite side of the earth than the United States. So, when people in the United States are facing away from the sun and have nighttime, what part of the day do you think it is in Australia? Australia will be facing towards the sun and have daytime when we have nighttime.

Have you ever been up early to watch the sun rise or seen it set in the evening? Sunrises are special because that is when your part of the earth is starting to face the sun, which turns darkness to light.

Look at the image of the sunset. How does this indicate rotation? Sunsets occur when your part of the Earth is rotating away from the sun, which is when light turns to darkness.


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