Life Lab

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

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. 


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Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
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.
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