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Museum Classroom Logo and Title

Hey, I'm Sam the Summer Programming Assistant here at the Peterborough Museum & Archives (PMA) and in this month’s blog post I'm going to teach you how to make your own sundial! If you're interested in who I am or what a Programming Assistant does here at the PMA I've included a bit about myself and my role at the end of this post.

Ancient Egyptian Sundial

Have you ever wondered how ancient civilizations told the time or if they were just always late? Well, thanks to mathematician and astronomer Theodosius of Bithynia in c. 160 BC to c. 100 BC the sundial was invented. Sundials have even been found in ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire! However, the Romans are credited with being the first to divide the day into 12 hour sections. With equal 12 hour parts for day and night, this allowed them to better mark the time and not be late to meetings! Nowadays we don't need a sundial because highly accurate clocks are everywhere, but that doesn't mean making a sundial is any less fun. Plus, you can impress your friends with your natural time-telling skills. Let's get started!

What You'll NeedClock Face

  • Paper plate
  • Marker or Pencil
  • Clock Face print-off (optional)
  • Glue stick (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Paint and brushes (optional if you want to decorate your plate first!)


We're going to start by marking off twelve even spots; our numbers will go onto our plate just like a regular clock face. You can use your ruler for this or ask an adult. Once the spots are marked off, you can start to add your numbers. If you decided to use the printable clock face instead, take this time to cut it out (remember to be careful) and use your glue stick to attach it to your plate.

Once your plate resembles a clock face, ask an adult to poke a hole through the center and place your pencil in the middle sticking straight up.

Now all you need to do is place your sundial in a sunny place! The shadow from the pencil will act like the hands of a clock telling you the time. Remember sundials are completely customizable so if you want to decorate it now’s the perfect time! When you're not using your sundial just take the pencil out of the center and keep your dial (the plate part) in a safe dry place until you wish to use it again. When you want to use your sundial again just place a pencil or stick back in the middle and you're all set! 

I hope you enjoyed making your own sundial with me! Check back monthly to see our latest blog posts!

Don't Forget to Share Your Creations

Don’t forget to tag the PMA if you share your creations online! You can find us at…

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Twitter @PtboMuseum

Get to know our Blog Post WriterPicture of our programming assistant

Hey, I'm Sam and I wrote this month's blog post! This is my first year as the Programming Assistant here at the Peterborough Museum and Archives! My main role here at the Museum is programming so I spend a lot of time planning future camps and activities. The two biggest programs I'm planning right now are Robotics and Coding for next year. I also spend a lot of time being involved in our current Summer Discovery programs.  This includes completing camp paperwork, teaching fun experiments and making sure camp life runs smoothly. My favourite things about camp are participating in camp activities, share my passion for STEM and exploring new concepts with campers. When I’m not at the PMA I’m busy studying biology and economics at Trent University. You'll also catch me hanging out with friends and family (pre-pandemic). A quick fun fact about me is I have a pet bearded dragon named Ducky, which is a native Australian lizard species. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and the Programming Assistant job a bit better. I look forward to getting to know all of you now that the PMA is open again!