The 8 lessons of the Earth, Sun, and Moon unit provide students many opportunities to construct knowledge about the structure, size, movement, and position of Earth, the sun, and the moon and their influences on our planet.
In Lesson 1 students explore the concept of scale as they consider diameters and distances between the three celestial bodies of study in the unit. In Lesson 2 the topic is days and nights and their relationship to Earth’s rotation, demonstrated in multiple hands-on activities. Lesson 3 builds on the sun’s “movement” as students learn how to build an equatorial sun clock, applying the proper corrections for locations of different latitudes.
The phases of the moon are studied in Lesson 4. Students investigate how each of the phases happens, simulating the relative positions between the earth, sun, and moon during one month. In Lesson 5 students look for the relationship between the moon phases and the occurrence of tides on the planet. Students recognize why there are two flood tides and two ebb tides in a period of approximately 24 hours and realize that the bigger tides occur during the alignment between planet Earth, the sun, and the moon.
The solar and lunar eclipses are studied in Lesson 6 as students participate in models of the phenomena. Students observe that the inclination of the moon’s orbit in relation to Earth’s orbit influences the period between each lunar and solar eclipse. In Lessons 7 and 8 the topic is the seasons of the year. In these lessons students learn what causes the seasons, how the light part of the day varies in each season, and the relationship between the seasons of the year and the tilt of the earth on its axis. Students notice the inversion of seasons of the year in the hemispheres, that is, while it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere.