Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?
Discovery Place Science
The concept of time has been pondered by man for thousands of years and our modern tech-savvy clocks have an interesting history of evolution. The earliest artifacts of time-keeping devices come from Ancient Egypt circa 1500 B.C. in the form of the most basic sundial prototype.
By 1000 A.D., the Song Dynasty had used their ingenuity to add astronomical water clocks to their sundial designs, and from there, innovators added their own twists to the basic model which ultimately led to the clocks we wear on our arms and display in our homes today.
Where Did Daylight Saving Time Originate?
So, this begs the question, where did the concept of Daylight Saving Time come from? Every year, Daylight Saving Time begins in spring, shaving an hour from our sleep schedule. Then in autumn we get that hour back.
This change has been scientifically shown to mess with our circadian rhythm, alter our heart health, increase accidents and increase depression, so why do we do it?
Not all countries participate in Daylight Saving Time. In fact, only 75 countries currently use it and 106 have never used it.
Canada was the first to implement it in 1908 to make more efficient use of their sunlight during the spring, summer and fall months. Germany popularized it in 1916 to minimize artificial light use and conserve fuel during World War I.
Who coined the idea of Daylight Saving Time? No one really knows, but it is argued that Benjamin Franklin inspired the concept in 1784 when he jokingly implied that Parisians could maximize the life of their candle supplies by getting out of bed earlier in the morning.
Prepare for the Time Change
You can prepare your mind and body for the time change in advance by adjusting your sleep schedule, eating healthy, rising with the sun in the morning and taking early morning walks. Spending time in nature is shown to not only positively impact your circadian rhythm but improve heart health as well.
Can you think of all the different ways that Daylight Saving Time has benefit you over the past eight months?
Create Your Own Sundial
If you want to try a cool hands-on activity to better understand how Daylight Saving Time works, make your own sundial using materials you likely already have at home.
There are many variations of sundials. Some of them have an angled gnomon (the rod part of the sundial that casts the shadow). If yours is angled, you will want to make sure it is pointed in the direction of North if you are in the Northern Hemisphere and South if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.
You can make a very basic sundial using just a paper plate and a pencil, and this version does not require too much fuss when positioning it. Once you have finished making your sundial, weather permitting, it is time to head outside.
For the sake of accuracy, we want to pick a specific time for this experiment (i.e., 12:00 p.m.). On November 6 when our phone reads “12:00 p.m.,” using a pen or pencil, mark where the shadow lies on the base of your sundial.
Then on November 7 when our phone reads “12:00 p.m.,” we are going to mark our shadow’s placement again. Has the shadow moved to the left or the right? Why? This is a great opportunity to teach little ones about the concept of Daylight Saving Time and why our shadow may have moved.