All About Daylight Saving Time
On the second Sunday of each March we recognize Daylights Saving Time (DST) by setting our clocks ahead by one hour! DST is a seasonal time change measure when clocks are set ahead of standard time during part of the year, usually by 1 hour. This means that on March 10th this year, you actually had a 25-hour day!
In the spring, when DST starts, clocks are set forward 1 hour and time “Springs Forward”. In the fall, when DST stops, clocks are set backward 1 hour and time “Falls Backward.”
History Of Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time was first introduced in 1895 by New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson and British builder William Willett. Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society, proposing a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March.
But did you know DST didn’t become recognized in the United States until the end of World War I?
In the United States, DST was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin as he noticed that by setting the clocks forward in summer there would be more productive time after normal work hours. In the winter, when the days become shorter and the growing season is over, the clocks would shift backward and daylight saving time would end for the year.
The House of Representatives voted to pass a law "to save daylight," with the official first DST taking place on March 15, 1918. Each state in the US has the option to decide to observe daylight saving time, and Hawaii and Arizona are the only two states that do not acknowledge DST.
Originally, clocks were sprung forward on the last Sunday in April, and turned back on the last Sunday in October, but the Energy Policy Act of 2005 shifted the start of Daylight Saving Time to the second Sunday in March and the end to the first Sunday in November.
The Science Behind Daylight Saving Time
When the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing winter the Southern Hemisphere is leaning toward the sun, so the sun is not up in the Northern sky as long as in the summer. During the winter months, the South Pole gets full sunlight while the North Pole gets full darkness!
The sun is actually centered north of the equator four more days than it is centered south of the equator! For this reason, the Northern Hemisphere gets a few more minutes of sunlight per year than the Southern Hemisphere.
How Daylight Saving Time Impacts Behavior
New research published in the journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports that Daylight Saving Time actually increases activity and health in children. The study found that the kids had 15-20% greater activity in a day when the sun sets after 9 p.m. compared to a sunset of 5 p.m.
Another study followed several hundred kids and observed their behavior right before and right after the time changes, and found that their activity level changed immediately after the time changed.
DST can affect our mental and physical health. Studies report that falling back to gain one hour of daylight in the autumn months causes reductions in sleep and increases rates of cardiac issues and stroke!
One of the most notable findings regarding DST is the negative effect it can have on mood, particularly in the northern latitudes of the earth. For those of us who live with depression, this time of year requires us to practice self-care to offset the lack of feel-good sunlight.
Activities to Educate Kids about Daylight Saving Time
Clocks and Counting
Daylight Saving Time is a great opportunity to educate your little ones on time and counting! Take advantage of that extra hour of sunlight and get creative!
Design your own Clock
What better time to teach your child how to tell time then Daylight Saving Time? Creating your own crafty clock is a fun and easy learning activity for you and your little learner. All you need is some paper plates, scissors, and pipe cleaners to create your clocks. Your little one can decorate their new clocks, all while improving their counting and time telling skills!
Children love to imitate their parents, which makes this next activity perfect for your curious young copy-cat. A super stylish wrist watch is the perfect way to teach your little one how to tell time. All you need is a toilet roll tube or other paper tube, a split pin, scissors, a pen, and plenty of things to decorate your watch with like glitter, gems, or paint.
Daylight Saving Time Board Game
Teach your child about clocks, seasons, numbers, and counting in this fun game for the whole family! For free downloadable instructions and game pieces (including the board game, playing instructions and two paper cubes), click here!
Daylight Saving Time in the Classroom
For teachers DST is a good time to educate kids on the history of Daylight Saving Time, and engage them in some fun learning activities! If you're looking for some ideas for the classroom, here are two articles with some fun suggestions.