Saturday, October 19, 2013

When Defiance Turns into an Experiment

For the longest time I have been strict about sunscreen and sun hats.  I have always said they were necessary from nine to five between March and September and ten to four the rest of the year with adjusting to nine to three during standard time.  It is just a rule I have used to be prudent about the sun.  The kids, however, were getting sick of it and challenged me on it.  So we sat down and researched possible rules of thumb for sunscreen usage.  A common one that seemed to come up was to wear it when one's shadow is shorter than oneself.  But even with this, my times didn't seem to be too far off - until we tested it.

We began by watching a video online about the angle of the sun.  Then we decided to measure our shadows beginning within a week of the summer solstice and once a month, thereafter.  After the June one, we looked up the solar noon so we could extrapolate the end time rather than have to measure shadows in both the morning and afternoon.  Here is what we came up with for sunscreen/hat usage:

Month (3rd week) Start Stop
June 9:45 4:45
July 10:10 4:35
August 10:40 4:00
September 11:20 3:00
October never shorter never shorter

In Buffalo, there is a big variance in how much sun we get during the different times of year.  As you can see, I wasn't too far off for June.

We continued in July.

August, however, was more like the times I had been using for winter.  This is when the kids started to get excited.  By September, it was less than four hours.

And finally, here is October, when their shadows never even got close to shorter:

Do you see the satisfaction at Mom being wrong?  Hopefully, this is the beginning of questioning all kinds of rules and seeking out the truth in more areas.  Of course, we are (painfully at times) aware that it often means questioning us too.