Time Zones and Daylight Saving

By Beckwith, Warren | Australian Mathematics Teacher, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Time Zones and Daylight Saving

Beckwith, Warren, Australian Mathematics Teacher

Background to the activity

It is always a challenge to find, or produce, material that has a gentle introduction, and then some steps towards the end that provide something that is non-routine and/or complex. It is also a bonus if the content can be applied across other subject areas to support the notion that mathematics can answer questions that may arise in other classes.

Time zones can be quite complex for some students to understand, and this activity including the required research, will assist students to have a better understanding of this concept. It will also give some background to Australia's time zones; for example, why is the central time zone one half hour different to the eastern states, and not one whole hour?

The notion of daylight saving is not essential to the worksheet, but can provide a great discussion point, as this is a topic that is often debated in Western Australia, my home state. Towns in the extreme east of the state, such as Kununurra and Eucla may benefit more from daylight saving, given their location. This raises the question as to who are the winners and losers when the location of the time zone is decided, and if you 'lose,' how do you adapt?

Some aspects of the activity would need to be altered to be relevant to your own area and state. Question 7, for example, was originally extended to include a number of locations around Australia, as listed in Question 6.

Objectives

1. To determine how time zones are created.

2. To examine other ways that time zones could be allocated.

Mathematics involved

1. Units of angles (degrees, minutes, seconds)

2. Direct proportion (i.e., relating 24 hours to 360[degrees])

Readers are welcome to email me at wbeckwith@helena.wa.edu.au if they wish to have a further extension to the worksheet that could be used as an assessment item.

Time zones and daylight saving

Daylight saving has been a hotly debated topic in Western Australia over a numbers of years. Since 1974 there have been four trials and four referendums, each resulting in a majority "No" vote to the proposal for permanent daylight saving.

At present the entire state of Western Australia is based on the Western Time Zone.

1. What is daylight saving?

2. Which line of longitude does our time zone correspond to?

3. Show how the time zones operate, by showing how the time in our zone is calculated, if it is 12 Noon at Greenwich, England.

Hints:

* How many degrees of longitude are there if you travel around the Earth once?

* How many hours are in a day?

* How many degrees of longitude need to be allotted to one hour?

4. A degree is made up of minutes and seconds.

(a) How many minutes are there in one degree?

(b) How many seconds are there in one minute?

(c) If 23[degrees]30' equals 23 x 5[degrees], complete this table. …

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