Rising and Setting of the Moon
Activity UCIObs – 6Grade Level: 3 – 5
Copyright (2009) by Tammy Smecker-Hane. Contacttsmecker@uci.eduwithquestions.
This activity addresses these California Science Content Standards:Gr 3
4b. Students know
the way in which the Moon's appearance changes during the four-weeklunar cycle.4d. Students know
that Earth is one of several planets that orbit the Sun and that the Moonorbits Earth.
What Is This Activity About?
In this activity students will do hands-onexperiments and learn that each differentphase of the Moon rises and sets at a differenttime of day. Children also learn that the time ofday is set by the location of the Sun relative toan observer on the Earth, and the time of dayis different for people at different positions onthe Earth.
What Will Students Do?
Together the class will experiment with alamp as the Sun, a Styrofoam ball as theMoon, and a student as an observer on theEarth. They will vary the location of the Moonin its orbit and the Earth will rotate to discoverwhen different phases of the Moon rise andset. Subsequently each student or groupof students will independently use a MoonRise/Set Demo to discover when differentphases of the Moon rise and set.
Tips and Suggestions:
This exercise is an excellent follow-on tothe Activity UCIObs-5 Exploring Phasesof the Moon. Use a dark room and abright lamp as the Sun and a styrofoamball as the Moon. Make sure to hold theMoon slightly above the children’s headsso the “Earth” doesn’t shadow the Moon.Optional activities discussed here includethe reasons for and timing of ocean tidesand eclipses.
What Will Students Learn?
Phases of the Moon, Positions of the Moon and Sun in the Sky
Visualizing, Ordering, Predicting, Inferring
Spatial Reasoning, Patterns of Change