Unit Plan

Moon Phases and Eclipses
Thom Baird
Grass Lake Middle School

Stage 1: Identify Desired Results

Unit Description


Investigations will help the student better understand how the movements and positions of the Earth, moon and sun result in the phases of the moon as we see it from the Earth. These investigations will also explain the why and how of both solar and lunar eclipses, their occurrences in addition to why they do not occur each and every time there is a new moon. Many activities, models and use of the internet will lead to an enduring understanding of the moon phases and eclipses.

Relationship to the Big Ideas in Earth Science:


Michigan benchmarks
(ES) V.4MS.2 Describe, compare, and explain the motions of solar objects. V.4 MS.3 Describe and explain common observations of the night skies.
20. The relative position and movements of the earth, moon, and sun account for lunar and solar eclipses, the observed moon phases, tides and seasons.
21. Earth scientists use representations and models, such as contour maps and satellite images to help them understand the earth.
22. Scientists use quantitative and qualitative, experimental and non-experimental methods of scientific inquiry to understand the Earth.

Unit Enduring Understandings:


1.             The moon's phases are caused by the positions of the Earth and moon as it orbits around the sun.

2.             There are certain alignments of the Earth, moon and sun that cause both solar and lunar eclipses to occur.

3.             There are problems with alignments of the Earth, moon and sun that make it impossible to observe eclipses each and every month. This results in the eclipses being rare events to the observer on the Earth.

4.             Models will assist us in understanding these moon phases and eclipses. Some models will actually reinforce misconceptions and need to be addressed when they do.

Unit Essential Questions:


1.             Why does the moon seem to change it's shapes and appearance?

2.             Why don't we see an eclipse every new moon? Are the Earth and moon on the same plane as they move around the sun?

3.             Is it possible for the sun to disappear during the daytime to the point where it is as dark as night?

4.             Oh yeah! Where does the moon go during the day?

What students will need to know and be able to do (knowledge and skills):


1.             Moonlight is reflected sunlight.

2.             Students will recognize that the revolution and rotation of the moon occur at equal rates resulting in the same side always facing the sun. We are seeing that side facing the sun from different angles thus resulting in these eight "moon phases".

3.             #2 depends on the relative position of the Earth, moon and sun and students will know the names of the eight moon phases.

4.             The moon moves in it's orbit around the Earth on a "tilted" plane relative to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun. This results in rare occurrences called eclipses rather than monthly occurrences.

5.             Where is the moon, in relation to the Earth and sun, during a solar eclipse and during a lunar eclipse.

What do students typically misunderstand?


1. The moon makes it's own light.
2. When there is an eclipse everyone in the USA can see at the same time. BIG SHADOW!
3. The moon rises in the east and sets in the west thus it goes around the earth each day.
4. The moon is not all that much smaller than the Earth.
5. Moon phases are caused by the Earth's shadow.

Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence



What is the Goal of the performance?


1. Students will be able to explain the position to the Earth, moon and sun during all of the phases of the moon as well as explain the eclipses.



What Role does the student assume in the performance?


A not so smart middle schooler.



What Audience does the student address?


The teacher, me, who holds the key to whether they can go to the dance this Friday night or not.



What is the Situation for the performance?


The student must be able to correctly explain or diagram all of the questions I have about moon phases and eclipses.



What Product should be produced?


A 100% correctly completed test paper that I have given to each student as a pre&post test.



What are the Standards for the product?


There are 20 questions I have given each student as a pretest. Each student answered the questions as best as they could before we covered this material. They have been given a black ink pen to work with. There are multiple choice questions, true false questions, diagrams they have to fill in and short essay types of questions. At the conclusion of our sessions they will be given the pretest back, along with a red ink pen, and are then to make any corrections needed to produce a perfect paper.

Preconceptions Assessment:


A pre-test consisting of 20 questions over the phases of the moon, positions of the Earth moon and sun during the phases and eclipses along with 2 short essay type questions.

Quizzes, Tests, and Academic Prompts:


Misconception test as pretest. Lab. models construction. Work sheets generated from internet sites they are to visit. Misconceptions test as post test.

Other Evidence:


I'll think of something. I am asking students to get "EXTRA CREDIT" points by video taping the moon eclipse this October 27th 2004, if there are no clouds of course, and give a description of the tape as it is shown on fast-forward.

Stage 3: Plan Learning Experiences, Instruction, and Resources

Use WHERE as a guide to describe the learning experiences, instructional strategies, and resources you will use to help students address the essential questions of the unit and achieve deep understanding of the big ideas.


Day 1 (Each period is 55 minutes long)
Hand out the preconception test for students to take.
Ask for preconceptions about the moon. Ask the question "Why does the moon change shape". List them all on the board. Compile answers from all classes and revisit next day. I put all similar questions together, but did not list repeats, on an overhead transparency.

Day 2
Hand out this link http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html Picture of the day
and worksheet related to it. It will wet their appetite for more.
Look up 9/26/04 picture.
1. What is the title of this photo?
2. What do you see here? Explain what you think is the cause of the shadow.
3. Where would you have to be standing to see a total eclipse? A partial eclipse?
4. What was the name of the space station from which this was taken?
5. What happened to the space station?
Look up 7/31/04 picture.
1. How often does a "Blue Moon" occur?
2. What is the "Blue Moon" in reference to?
3. What causes us to see a "Blue Moon"?
4. Any other moons visible in this photo?
Look up 4/17/04
1. What is the name of this photo?
2. Why is the moon so dusty?
Look up 11/7/03 picture.
1. What is being shown here?
2. The total time for this was __________ min.
Look up 2/27/03 picture.
1. What is causing the shadows?
2. What planet is this?
3. How many moons are shown?
Day 2 part 2
At the same time those are involved in computer investigation (7 computers) others may be filling out a Review sheet on phases and eclipses for this portion of class time. RR4-1 and RR 4-3
Day 3
1. After showing the preconceptions list, review what we are going to do with it. ( I will at end of day place it on board and revise. Fact or fiction?) Styrofoam moon activity- "Moon phases" Hand out a moon to all students. (These were purchased at local art supply, JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels and are about 1/4 the size of your head.) Turn on the light source (200 watt sun works) and walk the students through a revolution of the moon. Start at the new moon phase and go over what 1/8 rotations will be like. As the moon revolves around Earth (Their head representing the Earth), have them record their observations as to which phases are being seen. Discuss at each 1/8th turn what is happening to cause the phases and the shadows.
2. View web animation on phases at Moon Phases or http://astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/java/MoonPhase.html
Questions Waxing means __________________ Waning means ________________ and gibbous is _______________________________________________________
Day 3
Assign to read chapter 4 section 4:1 and 4-3
1. Hand out sheet to visit these sites. Use this web site for moon phases http:// www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/the_universe/uts/moon3.html&edu=elem Phases
Day 4
1. Show Bill Nye film on THE MOON along with study sheet supplied.
2. Get out "old" Moon rotation model and review.

3. Solar eclipse

4. Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse
5. Pictures
6. Visual
7. Visual

At this time use Riverside computer program to show different views. This is excellent.

Day 6
1. I will give the pretest back, uncorrected, they will take it over. This time they will use red ink to change any answers they wish. The first time they used black ink so there will be a definite contrast and it will be evident what was actually learned.
2. Later there will also be a test over the whole moon chapter. It will also include the tides and other moon terms.