Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Where Is the Moon?
Santa Rosa District Schools
A simulation is used to help students understand the location of the Earth, moon, and sun, in relationship to each other, during a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse.
The student understands the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun during a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse.
-Globe of the Earth
-Styrofoam ball with a diameter smaller than the globe
-Whiteboard and markers
-Student science journals
1. Gather supplies needed: globe, spot lamp, styrofoam ball with a diameter smaller than the globe, whiteboard marker, and eraser.
2. On the whiteboard, have key terms written: eclipse, solar, lunar, umbra.
3. Gather background information on eclipses and begin to brief yourself before teaching this lesson.
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Students should be familiar with the phases of the moon and why the moon goes through phases.
1. Ask students to recall what happens to the moon on nights that we cannot see it. Remind them that the moon does not actually disappear, but we cannot see it because the sun is shining on the side of the moon we cannot see. Ask students to hypothesize what would happen if the moon were to line up with the Earth and the sun. Wait for responses.
2. Tell students that today, we will learn about eclipses. Instruct students to write the word eclipse and its definition in their science notebooks.
3. Demonstrate the different phases of the moon using the lamp, globe, and styrofoam ball. The lamp represents the sun and the styrofoam ball the moon. As the moon revolves around the globe, the Earth creates shadows on the moon. (This works best if the ceiling lights are out.) Introduce the word umbra and its definition and instruct students to write this in their science notebooks. Say that just as an umbrella can create a shadow on the ground, the Earth creates a shadow, or an umbra, on the moon.
4. On the whiteboard, draw and label circles demonstrating the position of the sun, Earth, and moon as demonstrated above. Tell students that they will now see where everything is in a solar eclipse. Ask students what the word solar means. Wait for the correct response. Lead students to see that a solar eclipse occurs in the day. Ask students what the word lunar means. Wait for the correct response. Lead students to see that a lunar eclipse occurs at night.
5. Using the models, demonstrate a solar eclipse. The lamp is on. Put the moon directly in front of the sun so that a shadow is created on the Earth. Ask students what we would see if we were on Earth looking up in the sky. Wait for responses. Ask students where the sun is shining on the moon. Ask students where the moon is in relation to the sun and Earth. Move the moon around the Earth so that the Earth is between the sun and the moon. Tell students that this would be a lunar eclipse, and only the side of the Earth away from the sun would see this. This would occur at night.
6. On the whiteboard, draw and label circles demonstrating the position of the sun, Earth, and moon during a solar eclipse and another diagram for a lunar eclipse. After a few moments, erase the diagrams on the board.
7. Instruct students to draw three circles that are in line in their science notebooks. Ask them to label the circle on the left as the sun. Next, ask students to label the circle that represents the Earth during a solar eclipse. Then have students label the circle that represents the moon during a solar eclipse. After students have done this, draw three circles on the whiteboard, labeling only the sun. Ask for a volunteer to come label the Earth on the diagram. The Earth should be the third circle. Label the middle circle as the moon. Check for understanding. Erase the labels on the diagram.
8. Instruct students to draw three circles in their science notebooks, labeling the sun as the first circle on the left. Tell students to label the Earth and the moon in a lunar eclipse.
Each student creates a labeled diagram showing the location of the sun, moon, and Earth for a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. The content of each studentsí diagram should reflect the proper locations for the sun, moon, and Earth during both a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse.
1. Have students research lunar and solar eclipses in history and manís perception of the phenomena.
2. Students can also research when the next visible solar and lunar eclipse will occur.