Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Make A Human Sundial

The human sundial in our garden never fails to fascinate children and adults alike. To use it a person stands on the appropriate month marked on the ground and their shadow is cast on a numbered marker that tells the time. A human sundial or analemmatic sundial differs from a common sundial in that the gnomon, which casts the shadow, is not angled. The gnomon (a person) in a human sundial is vertical and moves based on the month. Our sundial is set for daylight savings time (March – November) but these sundial installations can be designed to work year round by including two sets of numbers. Since the science center that we purchased design instructions stopped selling sundial plans we have researched other options for acquiring plans. The following provide a range of options for you to create a sundial: offer plans for about $60. They also have some great photos of human sundials and lots more information on using and installing human sundials. charge about $500 and up for different types of sundial installation kits.

None of following are as simple as sending $60 but they seem to be good options if you want to turn your sundial project in to class project. 

This lesson submitted by a teacher at the Evergreen Site in Canada describes how you can have your students create a sundial by marking their shadows on the same day and time per month for a year. is looking for sites to pilot the Solar Schoolhouse Human Sundial Calculator. Email Tor Allen and let him know you are interested and he can send you the directions to make a human sundial using the calculator they have created.

Great for those with higher level math skills: Free downloads for various types of sundial designs including an analemmatic model that you could scale up to make a human sundial. A instruction kit you download and make a sundial. Could be scaled up to make a human sundial.

More directions to make a human sundial which seems to involve a bit more complex math than just purchasing a plan. Could be good for high school math students. 

Analemmatic sundials: How to build one and why they work. This page is similar to the one above which involves more complex math to create your own plan.

Sundial Design Software
A short primer on how sundials work. They also sell Shadows software that can be used to design various types of sundials. This seems like a good option for landscape designers that might be installing various sundials at different latitudes. 


Article tags: ,

follow us on Facebook

Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Just when I thought we’d seen it all ... this is an agrophotovoltaic school garden underneath massive solar panels at @Manzo.Ecology in Tucson. The elementary school students here gather and analyze data on how the shade from the panels helps the plants grow and how the plants help cool the panels and increase their efficiency. What?!?! It’s amazing and gives me hope. Oh, and also they have a desert tortoise in their courtyard. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Watch us on Youtube

View Life Lab Channel

Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom