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McREL Standards Activity


Movements of the Earth and Moon


Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will understand Earth’s rotation, revolution around the Sun, and the Moon’s orbit around the Earth.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Science
 Standard 3.Understands the composition and structure of the universe and the Earth's place in it
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 2. Knows that the Earth is one of several planets that orbit the Sun and that the Moon orbits the Earth
Science
 Standard 3.Understands the composition and structure of the universe and the Earth's place in it
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that night and day are caused by the Earth’s rotation on its axis
Student Product:drawings
Material & Resources:flashlights for day/night demonstration; paper and pencils, crayons, or markers for drawings
Teacher's Note:This activity should be used to supplement a unit covering the movements of the Earth and Moon. This activity will need a bit of room. During the day and night demonstration, a semi-dark place will be needed or the blinds should be closed. If possible you may want to try to use a bare lightbulb for a more accurate represention of the sun instead of a flashlight. You may want to have the children change rolls for each demonstration so no one becomes bored and everyone has a chance to play each celestial object. For demonstrations 3 and 4 you may find it easier to ask one group of students to perform the demonstrations for the class to keep order.
Activity
Divide students into groups of two, supplying flashlights to each group. Choose one child in each group to be "Sun", and the other to be "Earth". Demonstrations: 1. The Earth’s revolution around the Sun. Tell each "Sun" student to stand still. (Here you could ask children why the "Sun" should stand still). Next, have the "Earth" move around the "Sun". Explain that the Earth is orbiting, or revolving around the Sun. 2. The Earth’s rotation on its axis. Tell the "Earth" students to stop in one spot and to slowly spin. Explain that this is rotation and that the Earth rotates on it’s axis. Ask the "Earth" student to still spin VERY SLOWLY and rotate as they revolve around the "Sun". 3. The cause of day and night. Have the "Earth" students stop their movements. Give each "Sun" student a flashlight because the Sun gives light to the Earth. (Here you will want to close the blinds or move to a shady room. When the flashlights are on, ask the "Sun" students to shine them on the "Earth" students. Explain that it is daytime on the side of Earth that is lighted and nighttime on the side that is dark. Have the "Earth" students slowly rotate.(You might want to ask what they notice about the day side of the Earth and the night side as the Earth rotates. Have several children explain ideas and discuss day and night.) 4. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth. (You will want to redivide the children into groups of three for this demonstration.) The "Sun" and the "Earth" will stand in place as they did in the first demonstration making sure there is enough room for the "Moon". With the "Earth" standing still explain that the Moon also orbits. It revolves around the Earth. Now have the "Moon" revolve around the "Earth". Next explain that the Moon does this while the Earth is revolving around the Sun. Now have the "Earth" begin revolving around the "Sun",(remind them to move slowly) while the "Moon" is revolving around the "Earth". You can now explain that the Earth is also still rotating on its axis and have the "Earth" rotate and revolve while the "Moon" also orbits. When the children take their seats again, review with them the vocabulary terms presented during the activity: revolve (revolution), rotate (rotation), and orbit. Have students create and submit drawings of the demonstrations that they performed and/or witnessed.