Unit 5: Exploring the Nature of Astronomical Phenomena in the Context of the Sun/Earth/Moon System

Exploring the Nature of Astronomical Phenomena in the Context of the Sun/Earth/Moon System
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Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Identifying Student Resources

A. Documenting initial knowledge about the Sun, Moon, and stars

Question 5.1 What do you already know about the Sun, Moon, and stars?

B. Noticing the sky

Question 5.2 What do you remember about experiences when you have seen the Sun, Moon, and/or stars?

Question 5.3 How have people noticed and represented the Sun, Moon, and stars in cultural stories, art and poetry?

1.  The Sun, Moon, and stars as represented in cultural stories

2.  The Sun, Moon, and stars represented in art

3.  The Sun, Moon, and stars represented in poetry

Question 5.4 How early in life does a child start noticing the sky?

4.  A young child’s observations of the Moon in the sky: Joseph’s Moon

Question 5.5 How do people talk together about the Moon?

5.  Ways of speaking about the Moon in a first grade bilingual classroom

III. Central Powerful Ideas Based on Evidence

A. Observing the shape and location of the Sun and the Moon in the sky

Question 5.6 Where is the Sun in the sky right now?

Question 5.7 Where is the Moon in the sky right now?

1.  Example of a student’s initial observation of the sky

2.  Nuances about observing the sky

B. Observing the Sun

Question 5.8 How does the Sun seem to move across the sky?

1.  Observing where and when the Sun appears to rise and set.

2.  Observing a student gnomon’s shadow during a field trip outside during a sunny class session

3.  Observing a post gnomon’s shadow outside during a sunny day

4.  Observing a paper clip or nail gnomon’s shadow on a sunny day.

5.  Example of student work about how the Sun seems to move across the sky.

Question 5.9 How big is the Sun?

C. Generating a question about the Moon and designing ways to explore this question

Question 5.10 What question about the Moon do you want to explore? How will you do that?

1.  Examples of a group’s initial questions and findings about the Moon

2.  Nuances about asking questions, making observations, and reporting findings

Question 5.11 What does the Moon look like today? What will the Moon look like over the next few days?

Question 5.12 What new question do you and your group members have about the Moon?

Question 5.13 How does the Moon seem to move across the sky during several hours? during several days?

D. Reviewing observations so far, making predictions, and generating questions

Question 5.14 What have you learned about the Moon from your observations so far?

1.  Example of student work summarizing initial findings about the Sun and the Moon

2.  Nuances about observing the Moon

E. Identifying patterns based on evidence

Question 5.15 What pattern have you observed in the changing shape of the Moon?

Question 5.16 What pattern have you observed in the angle formed by pointing arms at the Sun and Moon when both are visible?

Question 5.17 How are the changing shape of the Moon and the changing angle related?

Question 5.18 What pattern have you observed in the relation of the lit side of the Moon and the location of the Sun?

F. Making predictions for when a phase of the Moon will rise and set

Question 5.19 How can you predict when a phase of the Moon will rise, transit, and set?

1.  Creating a Sun clock and using it to predict when the Moon will rise, transit, and set

2. Example of student work illustrating how to predict rising, transiting, and setting times for a first quarter Moon.

3. Example of student work summarizing powerful ideas about the Moon

Question 5.20 What is the duration of each phase of the Moon?

Question 5.21 What aspects of the nature of science have students experienced so far?

IV. Using Central Ideas to Develop Two Explanatory Models For Day And Night

Question 5.22 Why does it get dark at night?

A. Developing the fixed Earth, revolving Sun explanatory model for day and night

B. Developing the fixed Sun, rotating Earth explanatory model for day and night

1.  Example of student work about developing two explanatory models for day and night

2.  Interpreting two different models for the same phenomenon

V. Using Central Ideas to Develop an Explanatory Model for the Phases of the Moon

Question 5.23 Why does the Moon seem to have different shapes at different times?

A. Reviewing central ideas about the relationship between the Sun and the Moon

B. Reading about a child’s insights about the phases of the Moon

C. Developing an explanatory model for the phases of the Moon

1.  Examples of student work developing an explanatory model of the phases of the Moon

D. Explaining a paradox based on detailed observations of the Moon

Question 5.24 Why does the Moon seem to move east to west over several hours but west to east over several days?

1.  Example of student work resolving the paradox about the apparent movements of the Moon

2.  Acting out explanation of this paradox

E. Considering other aspects of the Moon’s motion

Question 5.25 Does the Moon rotate while it revolves around the Earth?

Question 5.26 What do the phases of the Moon look like from other places on the Earth?

F. Developing representations of the Sun/Earth/Moon system as seen from space

Question 5.27 How are the Sun, Earth, and Moon arranged in space?

1.  A child’s spontaneous wonderings

2.  Exploring the arrangement of the Sun, Earth, and Moon in space

Question 5.28 What are the relative sizes of the Sun and the Moon?

3.  Example of student work discussing the arrangement and relative sizes of the Sun, and Moon.

Question 5.29 How does the view of the phases of the Moon from Earth compare with the view from above the solar system?

4.  Example of student work about views of the Moon from Earth and above the solar system.

5.  Nuances about viewing the phases of the Moon from above the solar system

Question 5.30 Does the Moon revolve around the Earth in the clockwise or counter-clockwise direction?

G. Considering what happens when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are arranged in a line.

Question 5.31 What causes solar and lunar eclipses?

1.  Example of student work about the causes of lunar and solar eclipses

H. Exploring Internet resources about the Moon with a friend or family member

Question 5.32 What Internet resources are available for teaching and learning about the Moon?

1.  Example of student work about engaging a friend or family member in learning about the phases of the Moon

I. Pausing to review before taking the next step

1.  Reviewing two explanatory models for day and night

2.  Reviewing an explanatory model for the phases of the Moon

VI. Developing Additional Central Ideas Based on Evidence about the Sun, Earth, and Stars

A. Noticing seasonal patterns evident in the night sky

Question 5.32 What seasonal patterns are evident in the constellations visible at night?

B. Noticing seasonal patterns in sunlight and shadows

Question 5.34 What seasonal patterns are evident in how the Sun seems to move across the sky?

1. Interpreting changes in the Sun’s maximum angular altitude

2. Interpreting data obtained from Internet resources

3. Example of interpreting Internet data about changes in the Sun’s apparent daily motion

4. Cultural examples of noticing changes in the Sun’s maximum angular altitude \(\alpha\)

C. Interpreting connections between seasonal differences in the Sun’s apparent angular altitude and regional climates

Question 5.35 What is the connection between seasonal differences in the Sun’s apparent angular altitude and seasonal temperatures and precipitation?

VII. Using Centrall Ideas Based on Evidence to Develop Two Explanatory Models for Seasonal Patterns in the Constellations Visible at Night

Question 5.36 Why are there seasonal patterns in the constellations visible at night?

A. Using a geocentric model to explain the seasonal patterns of constellations visible at night

B. Using a heliocentric model to explain the seasonal patterns of the constellations visible at night

VIII. Using Central Ideas to Develop an Explanatory Model for the Earth’s Seasons

A. Explaining the Earth’s seasons with a heliocentric model

Question 5.37 Why is it hot in the summer and cold in the winter?

IX. Estimating the Tilt of the Earth

A. Developing and using mathematical representations to estimate the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation

Question 5.38 How can one estimate the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation?

1.  Envisioning the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation

2.  Estimating the tilt of the Earth’s  axis of rotation

3.  Nuances in developing and using mathematical representations to estimate the Earth’s axis of rotation

4.  Estimating latitude and maximum angular altitude of the Sun during an equinox

Question 5.39   Why does a location’s latitude, angle \(\phi\) = 90° – angle αe?

5.  Deriving the tilt of the Earth in terms of the difference between the maximum angular altitudes of the Sun during the summer solstice, αs, and equinox,αe

Question 5.40 Why does the tilt, angle ε = angle αs at summer solstice – angle αe at equinox?

6.  Discussing the effect of the tilt of the Earth at several latitudes

Question 5.41 What are the Tropic of Cancer, Arctic Circle, and Antarctic Circle?

7.  Deriving the tilt of the Earth in terms of the difference between the maximum angular altitudes of the Sun during an equinox, αe, and during the winter solstice, αw

Question 5.42 Why does the tilt, angle ε = angle αe at equinox – angle αw at winter solstice?

8.  Developing and using a mathematical representation to estimate the Earth’s tilt if a location’s latitude is not known

Question 5.43 Why does the tilt, \( {\color{Red} \textbf{angle} \epsilon = \frac{\textbf{angle} \alpha_s – \textbf{angle} \alpha_\omega}{2}}\)?

9.  Discussing additional effects of the tilt of the Earth’s axis on several latitudes

Question 5.44 What happens at the Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle, and Arctic Circle?

X. Developing and Using a Mathematical Representation to Estimate an Intriguing Quantity

A. Visualizing relationships among the Sun, Earth, and Moon through actions

Question 5.45  How are the motions of the Moon revolving around the Earth related to the motions of the Earth revolving around the Sun?

1.  Acting out the simultaneous motions of the Earth and the Moon

2.  Nuances in acting out the simultaneous motions of the Earth and the Moon

B. Visualizing by drawing a diagram and thinking conceptually about the situation

Question 5.46  When you are seeing a third quarter Moon, you are looking at the “place in space” where you and everyone else on Earth will soon “be”!  How soon will you get “there”?

1.  Drawing a diagram that represents the situation and considering relevant powerful ideas

2.  Example of student work about the simultaneous motions of the Earth and Moon

3.  Nuances about working on this question

XI. Pondering Additional Issues

A. Reviewing understandings about the Sun, Earth, Moon, and Stars

B. Understanding motion

Question 5.47 How are the Moon and the Earth moving?

C.  Exploring forces

Question 5.48 What keeps the Moon and the Earth revolving in their orbits?

Question 5.49 If the Earth pulls on the Moon, does the Moon pull on the Earth?

D. Developing and using mathematical representations of gravitational forces

Question 5.50 What quantities determine the magnitude of gravitational forces?

E. Explaining the ocean’s tides

Question 5.51  What effect does the gravitational force by the Moon have on the Earth?

Question 5.52 How do gravitational forces by the Moon and by the Sun on the Earth’s oceans affect the tides?

F. Exploring falling objects

Question 5.53 What happens when heavy and light objects are dropped from the same height at the same time?

1. Documenting initial knowledge about falling objects

2. Role playing Galileo’s dialogue about falling objects

3. Modeling Galileo’s exploration of falling objects

Question 5.54 Why do light and heavy objects fall the way they do?

Question 5.55 What happens when heavy and light objects drop from the same height at the same time on the moon?

4. Interpreting first grade students’ thoughts about falling objects

Question 5.56 What ideas do first grade students have about falling objects?

XII.   Making Connections to Educational Policies

Question 5.57 What are the current standards for teaching science at various grade levels where you live?

Question 5.58 How would you use your community’s standards for teaching science to engage children in learning about astronomical phenomena within the Sun/Earth/Moon system?

A. Learning more about the US Next Generation Science Standards

B. Reflecting upon watching the sky

C. Making connections to the NGSS understandings about the nature of science

Question 5.59  What have you learned about science learning and teaching from your explorations in this unit?

XIII. Exploring Physical Phenomena: Summary of Equipment and Supplies for Unit 5

 

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Exploring Physical Phenomena by Emily Van Zee & Elizabeth Gire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.