Middle school

Solar system, moon phases

Why does the moon look different each night?  Do we see all sides of the moon?  What causes eclipses and other phenomena, like blood moons?  Learn all of this and more in Moon Pops!  Adapted from the NSTA Moon Phases Demonstration, Moon Pops will introduce the idea of moon phases to students as well as the relationship in space between the Earth, the sun, and the moon.

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Learning Objectives

Students will know

  • The moon is always half lit by the sun
  • The moon orbits the earth
  • The different shapes of the moon are called phases; phases are caused by observing the half-lit moon at different times during its orbit of earth
  • There are 8 phases; the cycle of the phases forms a pattern

Students will understand

  • Patterns can help us identify cause and effect relationships
  • Models can help describe or explain phenomena

Students will be able to

  • Demonstrate and illustrate how the relative positions of the sun, earth, and moon cause the phases of the moon as seen from earth. 
  • Given a drawing or photograph of the moon in any phase, be able to correctly name that phase and draw a diagram showing the relative positions of Earth, the moon and the sun for that phase. 
  • Given a diagram showing any possible set of relative positions of Earth, the moon and the sun, determine the name of the moon phase and draw what the moon would look like in that phase. 
  • Demonstrate and explain why we always see the same side of the moon.  
  • Demonstrate and explain what causes lunar and solar eclipses.
Standards Alignments + Connections

Next Generation Science Standards Connections

6-MS-ESS1-1 Earth’s Place in the Universe: 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.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Connections

6.11(A): describe the physical properties, locations, and movements of the Sun, planets, moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets;

8.7(B): demonstrate and predict the sequence of events in the lunar cycle

Louisiana Standards for Science Connections

6-MS-ESS1-1 Earth’s Place in the Universe: 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.

UNIT PLAN

Pre Laboratory Engagement

Pre-Laboratory Engagement (30 minutes) 

  1. OPTIONAL- Engage students in a discussion to activate prior knowledge by having them share what they already know about the phases of the moon
    • Can be done online using Padlet, a Google Classroom question, Mentimeter, etc.
  2. Students should read these articles
  3. Students should watch these videos
  4. Students should share what they learned in the articles and videos by each adding to a shared google slide deck that has different slides for different topics
  5. Students should look at the lunar calendar (with 2 weeks of moon phases filled in) and should make a prediction about what the moon will look like the rest of the days of the month by coloring/shading the circles.

Laboratory Exploration

Laboratory Activity (30-40 minutes)

  1. Students should watch the video, Why do we only see one side of the moon? (1:04)
  2. Students should watch the Moon Phases Demonstration video (4:15)
  3. Students should practice doing the demonstration at home on their own using the guided worksheet to draw their view of the moon at each phase
  4. After the activity students should return to the pre-laboratory lunar calendar to make any necessary corrections to their prediction lunar calendar

Post Laboratory Extension

Post-Laboratory Extension (30-45 minutes)

  1. Students can play these games to practice identifying the lunar phases
  1. Students should answer this question in writing in the CER format

Adapted from National Science Teacher Association: Moon Phases Demonstration for use by Learning Undefeated