Today we continued with the study of the moon by going over its phases. The phases of the moon are the apparent changes in the moon's appearance as seen from the Earth. The moon itself doesn't change, it rotates and gets sunlight and night time too. The reason is due to the moon's orbit around the Earth.
As the moon moves towards the sun, it gets less visible. Why? Imagine that you are standing at a dock watching a ship sail away over the horizon. As it gets further away, it not only looks smaller but the light reflected back to you is less due to the curvature of the Earth. Also, as the moon moves more between the Earth and sun, the sun's light completely blocks it out. We can't see the new moon at night because the Earth doesn't face it. When we see the full moon, it is because the moon is transiting on the night side of the Earth. Today we did an experiment to prove it but first, we had to do a warm-up:
Once we finished going over the warm-up, we went over the 8 main phases of the moon. The biggest thing to remember in how to identify whether or not a moon is waxing (getting bigger in appearance) or waning (getting smaller in appearance) is the simple rhyme, "The light is on the right." When the right side of the moon is visible, it means that the moon is waxing until it reaches a full moon. Then, it wanes until a new moon and thus the cycle continues.
Then we did a hands-on activity using a ping pong ball suspended by a string for the moon and a flashlight for the sun. The task: to simulate the phases of the moon by shining the light at different angles.
Afterwards, we did a mini-lesson on the differences between "their", "there", and "they're." After that, the students got to work on their famous North Carolinian part of the social studies project.
Lastly, I sent out my parent letter early so parents can be ready for Friday. Students will get about 30 minutes to pass out Valentine's Day cards (please be sure there is enough for everyone) and any treats students may be bringing.