The lunar phases are typically hard for students to learn, mostly because they are really hard to visualize. Thus, I created a simulation using styrofoam balls stuck on pencils to help students see exactly why the moon "changes shape." This lesson focuses on the integration of diagramming, keen observation, and logic. As students rotate, diagram and discuss, they begin to understand how our perspective determines everything.
In a later lesson, we explore what the moon looks like from "above" or below us (in outer space, not as seen from earth), to further deepen the concept of perspective. (In a later lesson, we also add in "waxing and waning")
Objective:I will be able to explain why the moon seems to change shape and name the different phases.
Key vocabulary: crescent, gibbous, first quarter, third quarter, new moon, full moon
Helpful background vocabulary: rotate, revolve, orbit
Contained in this lesson:
Where does moonlight come from probe
Where does moonlight come from discussion questions
Poll, Sharing & Disco ball vs. Chinese lantern
Teacher tips on the simulation
Why does the moon change shape probe
Setting up Science notebook & directions
The Moon Simulation: Your head is the Earth!
Rotation 1: Facing the Sun & diagramming
Rotation 2: Facing the Corner & diagramming
Rotations 3-8: 45 degree rotations & diagramming (3 each)
Reflect: What causes the phases?
Naming the Phases
Interactive 1: Where's the light?
Interactive 2: What does it look like?
Interactive 3: Quiz yourself.