Space Exploration: Lunar Phases

Space Exploration: Lunar Phases
Take a "stroll"' through the solar system to investigate Earth in the context of other celestial bodies in our solar system, including other planets and moons. Students will be led through a brief lesson on the characteristics of the planets, including some of their moons and their own attributes. A special focus will be put on the planets' lunar neighbors, particularly Earth's own Moon and what natural phenomena are related to it. In this unique space, students will be able to experience in three dimensions how the Sun casts its light onto the Moon and how it is observed from Earth's surface to give the lunar phases. Similarly, the students will be able to observe the physical relationship between the Sun, Earth, and Moon that cause differences in the tides seen on Earth's surface.

Curricular Connections

Grade 4 - Big Idea: The motions of Earth and the moon cause observable patterns that affect living and non-living systems
Earth Sciences 11 - Big Idea: Astronomy seeks to explain the origin and interactions of Earth and its solar system


Critical Thinking
Pattern Recognition
Content Mastery
Physical Manipulation


Tour Through the Solar System (Moons focus)

In this teacher-led tour, students will experience the wonders of our cosmic neighborhood, gaining a deeper understanding of each planet and its unique characteristics with a special focus on any natural satellites - or moons - that orbit it.
Objective Description
Moon Observation Students will observe moons at different planets.

Activity Bubbles: Ordering the Planets

In small groups, students will enter "activity bubbles" to engage in an interactive activity that allows them to pick up, move, and place the planets of the solar system in the correct order.
Objective Description
Order the Planets Students will describe the order of the planets in our solar system.

Scale in the Solar System

In this whole-class experience, students will be interacting with the planets of the solar system to create a more "to-scale" representation of their actual distances in space.
Objective Description
Recognize Scale of the Solar System Students will recognize with modeling a more accurate scale of the planets in the solar system.

Lunar Phases

While observing the Solar System, take a stop at Earth to take a look at the Moon as it orbits Earth. Witness how the Sun constantly lights up one side of the Moon, but examine how it looks different from the perspective of Earth as the Moon completes its orbit. Follow along with the teacher to observe each lunar phase!
Objective Description
Lunar Phase Identification Students will observe and recognize phases of the Moon at Earth.

Moon and the Tides

Observe Earth and its relationship with the Moon and the Sun and how they align to affect the tides on Earth's surface. Consider what arrangement the Sun, Moon, and Earth must be in to cause spring and neap tides.
Objective Description
Identifying Causes of Tides Students will observe and recognize the role of the Sun and the Moon in spring and neap tides.

Scavenger Hunt

A question-based scavenger hunt to assess student knowledge of concepts covered.
Objective Description
Describe Characteristics of Celestial Bodies Students will identify celestial bodies according to their characteristics.

Asteroid Dodgeball

Watch out for that asteroid! Get active and play a tag-like game called Asteroid Dodgeball. Divide into teams, hold your blaster, and launch asteroids at the other team! The team with the highest number of tags is the winner.