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Solar System: Phases of the Moon

The moon is responsible for the tides, eclipses and the concept of the month. In this activity, students will model how the moon appears as it revolves around the Earth. The shadows on the moon will be similar to the cycle of the phases.



Materials- styrofoam ball & flood lamp

*In this activity the flood lamp will model the sun, your head is the earth, and the ball is the moon.

  1. Explore the NEW MOON phase. Face the lamp with the ball between you and the lamp. The new moon should be dark since the light from the lamp cannot shine off from it and into your eyes with this position.
  2. The time of day for your position when you are looking directly in the sun is noon. If you were facing directly away from the sun it would be midnight. Rotating should let you see when the moon rises, is overhead, sets, and is hidden.
  3. Explore the full moon, 1st quarter, and 3rd quarter.


Purpose: Have students recognize the phases of the moon and it’s location to the earth.

Introduce: BrainPop!

Difficulties: Understanding why when the sun shines directly on the moon, we can’t see it. How everything revolves around each other while spinning.

Changes: Model the different times of the day and the phases of the moon together. Maybe have a tape “clock” on the ground for students to rotate around.

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