STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

STEM Friday: The Invention of Time!


Did you know there’s a clock in Boulder, Colorado that can keep the time to within 1 second in 3.7 billion years?! It’s considered the most accurate clock in the world. It’s an optical clock, and what that means is that instead of using the vibration of atoms or molecules, like our current atomic clocks use, it uses light to keep time.

That’s pretty cool. But how did this method of keeping time evolve? And why is it even important to be this accurate?

When a child (or an adult for that matter!) asks, what is time, the explanation isn’t an easy one. Yes, time is a way to keep track of our lives—the school year, the season, the age of our dog (in human and doggy years)…it seems like time has always existed. Well, it has, but what time is today—seconds, minutes, days, etc.—isn’t what time was millions of years ago, when telling time didn’t exist as we know it. It’s easy to forget that the act of telling time is one of the greatest inventions of mankind!

It’s easy to forget that things like minutes and months are an invention in the first place! So that’s why we’re featuring, Timekeeping: Explore the History and Science of Telling Time with 15 Projects for today’s STEM Friday post. Because understanding timekeeping involves knowledge of all of these things: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Timekeeping, a book for kids ages 9-12,explores how humans have measured the passage of time since, well, since the beginning of “time,” when the sun told the time, and days were kept with a shadow clock. Nights were kept by the phases of the moon. It teaches kids about the process of mathematically calculating calendars, and about all of the phases our current Gregorian calendar has gone through to be the twelve-month, 365-day calendar that it is now. They’ll learn how to make a sundial and a clepsydra, a clock devised by the Egyptians that uses dripping water to track time. They’ll also learn cool facts like why Daylight Savings Time exists, and that another name for it is “War Time,” because it was originally implemented to save fuel during WWI.

The projects, facts, and much more make reading this book no waste of time!

Today’s post is part of STEM Friday, a weekly round-up of children’s science, engineering, math and technology books.

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3 thoughts on “STEM Friday: The Invention of Time!

  1. The thing I always want to know is: where we put that hour that we saved? I’m thinking we need a “time bank”…
    Over at Archimedes Notebook I’m thinking about stars falling out of the sky tonight.

  2. What an amazing clock! At Booktalking I’m reading about ponies: Shetland Ponies Are My Favorite! by Elaine Landau

  3. Clocks are fascinating in ways besides telling time! Love the idea of this book. At SimplyScience, I have Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang and Penny Chisolm. It’s a look at how phytoplankton fuel the food chain.