This engaging, exciting, and rigorous webquest can be completed individually, with partners, or in groups. The purpose of this webquest is for students to learn about the relationship between the moon and Earth and the resulting phases and eclipses. The webquest includes videos, interactives, and readings. It requires students to answer questions and draw diagrams.
MS-ESS1-1 Earth's Place in the Universe Students who demonstrate understanding can:
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. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models can be physical, graphical, or conceptual.]
The performance expectation above was developed using the following elements from the NRC document A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Science and Engineering Practices Developing and Using Models Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.
Develop and use a model to describe phenomena.
Disciplinary Core Ideas 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.
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.
Crosscutting Concepts Patterns
Patterns can be used to identify cause-and-effect relationships.
- 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.
Activity Focuses on Season Evidence Statements:
Students use patterns observed from their model to provide causal accounts for events, including:
i. Moon phases:
1. Solar energy coming from the sun bounces off of the moon and is viewed on Earth as the bright part of the moon.
2. The visible proportion of the illuminated part of the moon (as viewed from Earth) changes over the course of a month as the location of the moon relative to Earth and the sun changes.
3. The moon appears to become more fully illuminated until “full” and then less fully illuminated until dark, or “new,” in a pattern of change that corresponds to what proportion of the illuminated part of the moon is visible from Earth.
1. Solar energy is prevented from reaching the Earth during a solar eclipse because the moon is located between the sun and Earth.
2. Solar energy is prevented from reaching the moon (and thus reflecting off of the moon to Earth) during a lunar eclipse because Earth is located between the sun and moon.
3. Because the moon’s orbital plane is tilted with respect to the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, for a majority of time during an Earth month, the moon is not in a position to block solar energy from reaching Earth, and Earth is not in a position to block solar energy from reaching the moon.