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In the first of the three activities in this kit, students start by ordering the phases of the Moon based on their own experiences and observations of the Moon. They then are challenged to figure out whether there is a predictable, and repeating, pattern in how the Moon’s appearance changes over time. Using the pattern they discover, they analyze and interpret data on an incomplete Moon phase calendar and determine which phases occur on the missing days.
In Activity 2, students interact with a computer simulation that models the Moon’s orbit around Earth. Students record data on how the Moon’s appearance changes as its position in its orbit around Earth changes. They then analyze and interpret their data to identify the causes of the cyclic pattern of the Moon’s phases.
In the final activity, students develop and use a three-dimensional model that illustrates how the Moon’s orbital plane is not aligned with Earth’s orbital plane around the Sun. This phenomenon explains why there are solar and lunar eclipses a few times a year but not each lunar cycle. This activity also provides an opportunity for students to cement their understanding of the relationship between the Moon’s orbit and the cyclical pattern of moon phases.
16 sets of eight Moon Phase Cards
16 wooden dowel rods
16 yellow sticks
16 green sticks
16 red sticks
8 blue sticks
8 purple sticks
8 Earth models (2” foam ball)
8 Sun models (3” foam ball)
8 Moon models (1” foam ball with a hole in it)
8 large foam boards (8.5” x 8.5” x 1”)
8 small foam squares (3” x 3” x 1”)
8 Earth and Moon Positions Templates
32 Student Guides
1 Teacher Guide
MS-ESS1-1: Develop and use a model of the Earth–sun–moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
MS-ESS1.A The Universe and Its Stars: Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.
MS-ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System: This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.
Science and Engineering Practices
Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.
Developing and Using Models: Develop and use a model to describe phenomena.
Connections to Nature of Science: Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems: Science assumes that objects and events in natural systems occur in consistent patterns that are understandable through measurement and observation.
Patterns:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.
Systems and System Models: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity: Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
Connections to Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology: Engineering advances have led to important discoveries in virtually every field of science, and scientific discoveries have led to the development of entire industries and engineered systems.
Common Core State Standards—Mathematics
MP.2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
MP.4: Model with mathematics.
6.RP.A.1: Understand the concept of a ratio, and use ratio language to describe a ratio between two quantities.
Common Core State Standards—ELA/Literacy
WHST.6-8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.