Sunday, March 11, 2012

Space Unit

We've just completed our science unit on space.  Its a combination of the study of Measuring Time & Earth, Moon, and Stars.  We start off by having the students make predictions on the order of the moon phases.  Then, each night the students look in the sky and record a picture of the moon on a calendar.  The following morning students posted the correct moon phase on these strips of paper.  Soon they could see the pattern and were able to predict the rest correctly.  This was a great way for the students to learn about the moon phases through inquiry-based learning.

We also talked about the way people explained the way the Sun and Moon worked in Ancient times.  I showed examples to the students and then they worked in groups to create their own Ancient World Models.
Students got up and moving to explore the difference between rotate and revolve as we learned how the Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits the Earth.  In the picture below, the boy is spinning in circles (rotating) while using his finger to model the moon orbiting his head.  At the same time he is revolving around the the laughing girl.  It was a lot of fun -- we got very giggly and dizzy. 
We used foam balls to model the moon phases.  This activity was the most beneficial to helping the students see why the moon phases work the way they do.  We pretended our heads were the Earth, our foam ball was the Moon, and the sun was ...the sun from our window!  We rotated around with our moons to see how the moon is always half lit, even if the amount we see changes. 
We made Moon Phase flipbooks too to help us study!
 We learned a lot about stars from a SMART board lesson I'd created.  They were so engaged during this lesson because they had no clue that our Sun is really just a star.  And an average star at that!  They were fascinated with how outer space works.  We also studied constellations.  We made constellation telescopes by creating black construction paper tubes with a black face on one end of the cylinder and taping a picture of a constellation to that same end.  We used push-pins to puncture the stars in the constellation and voila! When pointed to the light we can see a miniature constellation in our telescopes!


We learned how to use star maps too!  Star Maps are specific to the time of the year and your hemisphere, so I found one for February and taped un-labeled pictures of the constellations to my ceiling.  Students were given 5 minutes to try to figure out how to use the maps on their own to locate constellations in the "sky" and then were sent on a hunt for specific stars! 
These are just some of the fun lessons we did to learn about Space.  We also made our own sun-clocks and watched several Bill-Nye videos!  Is it too cheesy to say that our study on space was Out of This World?!  I think not!

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