Spring is almost here (can you hear the birds each morning yet?) and, along with the flowers that will spring from the earth, we will “spring” our clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time on March 12th, 2017. While this national time keeping strategy often leaves us feeling tired in the spring, it also may make you wonder if Daylight Saving Time has lost its usefulness and belongs to the history books alone. Read on (and share with your homeschoolers!) to get a better understanding of why we still have Daylight Saving Time and how you can appreciate this day for more than just the extra hour each fall that Daylight Saving Time brings!
History of Daylight Saving Time
There are many, many myths floating around about Daylight Saving Time, just note the lack of an “s” on the end of saving and you’ll catch the drift! While many believe this practice to be about agriculture and to have originated in the USA, that’s not true. The history of DST does not lie in our agricultural practices, and it did not originate with Benjamin Franklin as many believe. In 1784 Benjamin Franklin did suggest, in his article “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” that Parisians could save money on candle and wax by turning clocks back so that they had more daylight. And, while this satirical essay is often credited with the beginning of the practice, Paris never actually took Franklin’s theory to heart.
The practice was first brought to a national government by Englishman William Willet. As the story goes, Willet was riding his horse one morning and came to the conclusion that England should move clocks forward by 80 minutes each spring so that more people could enjoy the sunlight. In 1907 he published a pamphlet titled “The Waste of Daylight” to gain support for his idea. Sadly Willet died in 1915 having never seen his idea put into action by Parliament.
Though England did not adopt the tradition right away, Germany did enact a type of daylight savings holiday in 1916, though the nation did so in an effort to conserve electricity, not spend more time enjoying nature! Later that year England followed suit. Read more about interesting facts related to the history of Daylight Savings Time on history.com.
The US adopted Daylight Saving Time several times in our history, first in WWI and WWII to give more time for factory workers to enjoy the sunshine before and after a long days work, and also to benefit the farming industry. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s Daylight Saving Time was used on and off as a way to combat energy crises, but with such irregularity that there was often mass confusion. Our current practice of Daylight Saving Time, which starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November was adopted in 2007 as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Daylight Saving Time Lesson Ideas
While changing your clocks may not be your favorite event, you can still enjoy Daylight Saving Time by taking the opportunity to study and learn about the historical and economic results of the practice. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Research the history of Daylight Saving Time and create a poster or project to show your findings.
- Study the energy efficiency arguments and reasons behind DST and create a trifold board, diorama, or poster based on your findings.
- Identify and chart the positive and negative effects of DST (believe it or not there are quite a few to consider!) and create a pro and con list.
- Write and hold a debate over whether the practice of Daylight Saving Time is worth it. Start by reading this article on why DST is a great practice.
- Write a persuasive petition or letter to Congress requesting the repeal of DST based upon your research.
- Research and discover which nations and states do participate in DST, and which do not. Be sure to learn what the reasoning is for each argument!
Though we may not feel like losing an hour of sleep on March 12th this year, we don’t have to waste that hour in misery or frustration. Take time to learn about Daylight Saving Time with your homeschoolers this year and empower them to draw their own conclusions on whether or not the practice is worth it. And don’t forget to celebrate by going outside and enjoying the earlier light and longer days because that’s what DST is all about!