Orbital, the Box - An interactive educational tool for in-depth understanding of astronomical climate forcing.

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.5334/oq.100. This is version 3 of this Preprint.

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Bryan C. Lougheed


“Orbital, the Box” provides an interactive tool with graphical user interface (GUI) for stimulating active, visual learning for understanding of astronomical climate forcing. This cross-platform tool can be run locally on a personal computer using a standard web browser environment with no need for plugins, thus maximising accessibility for students and teachers alike. The tool facilitates in the development of a holistic and quantitative understanding of astronomical climate forcing by allowing students to independently vary orbital parameters, after which they can instantaneously see the resulting effect upon the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of solar irradiance arriving at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere. Such an approach follows a classic controlled experimental design whereby one parameter can be changed while all others are kept constant. This experimental tool can be deployed as a virtual laboratory, including within a flipped classroom setting, to promote active learning of traditionally challenging concepts such as the roles of eccentricity and precession in astronomical climate forcing, and in particular their interaction with Kepler’s second law and the subsequent consequences for season length.




Adult and Continuing Education, Astrophysics and Astronomy, Climate, Earth Sciences, Education, Educational Methods, Geology, Geophysics and Seismology, Higher Education, Instructional Media Design, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, The Sun and the Solar System


Palaeoclimate, Irradiance, Teaching, Interactive tool, Milanković, Milankovitch, Eccentricity, Precession


Published: 2021-04-07 10:03

Last Updated: 2023-09-12 17:07

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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