Phases of the Moon - Active Model

By Laura Hospitál on Jan 13, 2015

Students with visual impairment are often presented with tactile graphics to represent the phases of the Moon.  This activity can act as a supplement to instruction on the phases of the Moon and will help students to better understand why and how the view from Earth changes during the various phases of the Moon.

This activity was designed jointly with Jim Allan

 

Preparation:

Place the stationary chair approximately 4' from the fan and the rolling chair approximately 3' from the fan between the fan and the rolling chair.

Place the model of the Earth on the stationary chair.

 

Materials

 

Procedure

After initial instruction on the phases of the Moon, this activity can be implemented one student at a time.
  1. Explain to the student that the fan represents the Sun and the wind from the fan represent the Sun's rays and that the student will represent the Moon.

  2. Place the model of the Earth on a stationary chair.  Explain to the student it's location relative to the Sun(fan) and Moon(student). 

  3. Have the student sit on the rolling chair which will be placed initially between the Sun (fan) and the Earth (on the stationary chair).This position will represent New Moon.

  4. Turn on the fan.

  5. The  Moon phases will be discussed as the Moon (student) revolves around the Earth. After asking the student the questions below, field his/her questions.  Only New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Third Quarter will be identified during this activity.  The student should be taught the other phases using a tactile graphic

    • New Moon:  Ask the student:

      • As the wind hits you in this position, think about what part of the Moon is lit up. Discuss the fact that the back of the Moon (student's head) is being lit up.   Is this part of the Moon facing the Earth (No)  Describe the fact that a shadow is cast on the portion of the Moon facing Earth during New Moon.

      • How much of the Moon do you think can be seen from Earth?  (None)  - Discuss

    • First Quarter: Guide the student to the right (with the fan blowing on his back) to  roll to First Quarter position.  Tell the student that a week has gone by as the Moon revolves to this position.  Tell the student that this represents the position of the Sun, Earth, and Moon called First Quarter. Ask the student:

      • Are you feeling more of the Sun's rays on your face?  (The student should answer yes.)

      • How much of your face is receiving the rays of the Sun?  The student should answer that half of his/her face is receiving the Sun's rays.

      • How much of the Moon do you think is visible from the Earth now.

      • Discuss that only half of  the Moon is visible because the other portion of the Moon that is lit is facing away from the Earth.

    • Full Moon:  Roll the student farther to his right to Full Moon position. Tell the student that one more week has elapsed and that this position is called Full Moon.  Ask the student:

      • How much of your face is receiving the Sun's rays?  (All of it)

      • Why do you think this position might be called Full Moon.  The student may say that the entire Moon is lit.  Discuss the position of the Moon relative to the Earth during Full Moon.

    • Third Quarter:  Continue to roll the student to his right to the Third Quarter position. Tell the student that another week has elaspsed. Ask the student:

      • Is more or less of your face receiving the Sun's rays now than during Full Moon?  The student should say less.

      • How much of your face is receiving the Sun's rays?  The students should answer half.  Discuss that it is the other half of his face receiving the Sun's rays relative to First Quarter.

    • New Moon: Roll the student to his right back to the original position.  Tell the student that a 4th week has elapsed.  Ask:

      • Does this position feel familar?  Discuss the Phases of the Moon as a recurring cycle.

  6. After completing this activity, review the phases of the Moon utilizing a tactile graphic of the phases.

 

Variations

Rather than using a stationary chair for the Earth, the teacher can position himself/herself as the Earth. 

 

NGSS Standards:

Middle School - Space Systems

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. (MS-ESS1-1)

 

phases of the moon collage


 

 

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