Links mentioned in the video:
Monday, February 29, 2016
The solar, or tropical, year is approximately 365.2422 days long. No calendar comprised of whole days can match that number, and simply ignoring the seemingly small fraction creates a much bigger problem than one might suspect. Which is why most of the modern world has adopted the Gregorian calendar and its leap year system to allow days and months to stay in step with the seasons.
Efforts to make nature's schedule fit our own have been imperfect from the start. Some ancient calendars, dating to the Sumerians 5,000 years ago, simply divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each. Their 360-day year was nearly a week shorter than our annual journey around the sun. When the Egyptians adopted this calendar they were aware that there was a problem, but they didn't add any more days to the calendar, they just added an extra five days of festivals, of partying, at the end of the year.
By the time Julius Caesar enjoyed his famed affair with Cleopatra, Rome's calendar had diverged from the seasons by some three months. But Egypt was observing a 365-day year, and as early as the third-century B.C. had even established the utility of a leap-year system to correct the calendar every four years.
Julius adopted the system by decreeing a single, 445-day-long Year of Confusion (46 B.C.) to correct the long years of drift in one go. He then mandated a 365.25 day-year that simply added a leap day every fourth year. We have continued this tradition.
Ideas for celebrating in the classroom:
Early Childhood & Elementary
Coloring Book download from http://www.mamaslearningcorner.com/printable-leap-year-coloring-book/
Learn About Frogs! (or Lemurs and other animals that leap!) – Make Origami frogs, sing (Little Green Frog) about frogs, have leaping contests!
Write a narrative from the perspective of a person during THE YEAR OF CONFUSION, or make up your own holiday from one of those extra Egyptian days.
Calculate the Physics of Leap Year
Watch the Neil Degrasse Tyson explanation on Leap Years
Math focused around the number 29!