Resource Image Earth, Sun, and Moon
$14.39 - Member Price  
$17.99 - Nonmember Price


Type of Resource: SciPack
Average Rating: Rating
 based on 35 reviews
Publication Title: None
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School


SciPacks are self-directed online learning experiences for teachers to enhance their understanding of a particular scientific concept and its related pedagogical implications for student learning. Unlimited expert content help via email and a final assessment both facilitate and document teacher learning.

The Earth, Sun, and Moon SciPack, co-developed between NASA and NSTA, explores the phenomena that can be explained by the position and motion of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. The focus is on topics supporting Standards and Benchmarks related to the heating of Earth’s surface by the Sun, phases of the Moon, and the apparent changes in the position of objects in the night sky. This SciPack also includes some of the basic details about Earth, including the characteristics that make it unique in our solar system, its composition, and its capacity to support life.

Ideas For Use


Searching for Activities in Astronomy
Posted in Physical Science by Carolyn Mohr on Wed May 14, 2014 7:13 PM

Hi Al, The NSTA SciPack on this topic is excellent for identifying student misconceptions on the reason for the seasons...

Additional Info

Science Discipline: (mouse over for full classification)
Earth's revolution
Earth's rotation
Phases of the moon
Intended User Role:Elementary-Level Educator, Middle-Level Educator, Teacher
Educational Issues:Inquiry learning, Professional development, Teacher content knowledge


Resource Format:
Size: KB
Installation Remarks:

National Standards Correlation

This resource has 7 correlations with the National Standards.  

This resource has 7 correlations with the National Standards.  

  • Earth Science
    • Changes in earth and sky
      • The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day in a cycle that lasts about a month.
    • Structure of the earth system
      • The solid earth is layered with a lithosphere; hot, convecting mantle; and dense, metallic core. (5-8)
      • The atmosphere has different properties at different elevations. (5-8)
    • Earth in the solar system
      • The sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar system. (5-8)
      • The motions of most objects in the solar system explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the moon, and eclipses.
      • Seasons result from variations in the amount of the sun's energy hitting the surface, due to the tilt of the earth's rotation on its axis and the length of the day. (5-8)
  • Process Standards for Professional Development
    • Research-Based
      • Address teachers' needs as learners and build on their current knowledge of science content, teaching, and learning. (NSES)

State Standards Correlation

Use the form below to view which of your state standards this resource addresses.

User Reviews

Astronomy made easy
  Deborah Greene on February 20, 2015
  I thought the SciPack was informative, concise, and had some fun hand-on activities. I'd love to use some of these activities with students but am not sure how they can have access to the interactive sites. I guess I just show them on a SMART board.

Excellent Review of Earth Science Content
  Chris Taylor (Boise, ID) on December 5, 2014
  Great Sci Pack with excellent interactive videos and clear information to help students with one of the most difficult concepts I teach, seasons!

What Help!
  Chad S on November 30, 2014
  This Sci-Pack was very use and full of content. I feel so much more prepared to teach this subject as this will be the next unit of study. Also I feel as though it has helped me gain more knowledge in preparation to take the Praxis II

I highly recommend SciPacls
  Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA) on August 27, 2014
  The structure of the SciPacks really help me understand the underlying concepts that surround each topic. Initially, I was unsure of how well I'd grasp scientific concepts in a self-paced, online format, but the carefully sequenced topics, interactive activities and simulations, in addition to the voice-over explanations work well together to help deepen my understanding in the content area. Especially valuable are the pedagogical implications and common student misconceptions. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about a subject after using a SciPack, and I highly recommend the Earth, Sun and Moon SciPack to anyone needing to learn more about scientific topics!

Great Source of Information
  Roberta Urbietyte (Santo Domingo, 0) on April 5, 2014
  This is my first SciPack. I would agree with the other educators. It is a great source of information for teachers. I enjoyed every single aspect of it. Loved it!

First Experience with a SciPack
  Jessica Minton (Collierville, TN) on January 5, 2014
  AMAZING!! This is the first SciPack I have worked on. I was nervous that it would be too much, but the information was great. It had background information and evolution of the way scientist viewed Earth, Sun and Moon. The side activities and interactive models added to helping understand. I couldn't get the few videos to work, but other than that I loved this. I can't wait to start on others and keep learning more.

Earth, Sun, and Moon
  Micki B on April 3, 2013
  This SciPack was fantastic! I really learned a lot from it. Before going through this SciPack, I was under the impression that I understood the moon phases and eclipses, but really I was very confused about it all. This SciPack made it easy to understand and gave me ideas for explaining the concepts to my future students. It is amazing how preconceptions of the Earth, Sun, and Moon can get in the way of truly understanding how they function and work. This SciPack was great and I would definitely recommend it to anyone searching for a better understanding of the Earth, Sun, and Moon.

Earth, Sun, and Moon Scipack
  Alicia E on March 10, 2013
  I Really liked this Scipack. I learned a lot. It made me really excited to learn. I didn't feel like I was doing homework when I was working on this Scipack; I was excited about it and very interested. Great Job!!

Earth,sun, and moon
  Jerica Schatz on March 3, 2013
  I found this to be a great resource. It is full of diagrams and visual aids. I really liked the information on the earths seasons and about the solar and lunar eclipses. There are also several hands on activities mentioned that would be great for the classroom.

Great Sci Pack!
  Alexandra on September 26, 2012
  This Sci pack is organized into a number of categories such as "the moving Earth" or the "Motion of the Moon" that helps make your search for certain information very easy! This Package also conveniently divides its information into grade levels. Not only is it a good source for teachers but it can also be a good interactive activity for the students. There are a number of visual aids and assessments included with each section, that give immediate feedback on your answer. I really enjoyed this Package!

Earth Characteristics
  Susan Rush (Baltimore, MD) on February 29, 2012
  Super excited about this scipack. I had no idea that measuring the Earth's circumference was as easy as this. I enjoyed how this was a nice refresher of things that I had forgotten about from elementary school, such as the different spheres and ways that the Earth was not flat was concluded. I enjoyed it!

Earth, Sun, and Moon SciPack
  Kelli (Tavernier, FL) on January 31, 2012
  This scipack offers really great information for elementary teachers. It gives you a lot of facts that you can use in your classroom at all grade levels. It also gives examples of hands on activities that you can use with your students. The SciPack also mentions common misconceptions and clears them up. I found this SciPack to be a really great refresher and I will definitely use elements from this SciPack in my classroom in the future.

Great visuals/animations
  Katherine Jezidija-Kendall on January 16, 2012
  This is a great 101...great visuals and animations. The animations really helped me visualize some of the more abstract concepts as far as planetary movements go. Nice historical background too on key astronomers. Review of earth's spheres very basic, Earth Science majors would be bored but otherwise good SciPack.

Good Background Info
  Jessica on December 31, 2011
  I found this SciPak to be very informative. I especially enjoyed the research behind the solar system model and how scientist had to build on each others notes to show what we now call our solar system. I believe that this is critical information for students. It allows them to see the relevance of why collecting accurate data is important.

My Review of Earth, Sun, and Moon
  Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD) on December 20, 2011
  Amazing experience learning a classic lesson from a whole new perspective. I definitely increased in knowledge having one through this exciting piece of knowledge.

Wow...Amazing and Informative
  Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD) on December 7, 2011
  I am absolutely enthralled with this SciPack. From developing my depth of knowledge of how the seasons and how the Earth moves, to the phases of the moon, these activities provide opportunities for interactivity, engagement, and thus expansion of one's repertoire of how to transfer their knowledge of such astronomy to the scholars we teach. Excellent Resources.

Great resource!
  Natalie Wetzel (Durham, NC) on November 9, 2011
  I learned so much about astronomy from this SciPak. Taking the NSTA Short Course that was connected to this SciPak made it even better!

Well organized
  Floyd (Honolulu, HI) on September 19, 2011
  This SciPack described the Earth, Sun and Moon, their orbits and interactions to include phenomenon like tides, eclipses, weather, seasons and energy transfer. One Science Object is devoted to each of the following areas: Earth’s Characteristics(Structure and Systems), Earth’s Orbit, Moon’s Orbit, and Earth’s Seasons. The content that had the biggest impact for me was the material in the Science Object “Our Moving Earth” which describes the Earth’s orbit, rotation and the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, and stars. This object, for the first time, gave me a good intuition of how the skies move at night. I have read stories that have people telling time by looking at the stars. I could understand this conceptually, but never saw in my mind’s eye how simple this really is. As I look at the night sky I now have a more cohesive view of my world and how it works. Now that this is part of my prior knowledge, I will have a broader foundation on which to build my understanding and that of my students.

Earth, Sun, and Moon Review
  RUTH FRIEDLANDER (BRONX, NY) on January 23, 2011
  The Scipack was extremely informative and the ability to have it read to me made taking notes and processing the information easier. I like to listen and then reread things for clarity. The visual aids of active models made the concept of how stars rotate in the sky, and the movement of the sun across the sky good as well. I went through the material at a leisurely rate. The mini quizzes were a nice bonus as well. It allowed me to see what I may not have understood before going on. Theonly flaw in the flow of the scipack may be how the Objects were used. I thought there would be a link that would have me work on an object related to that section, then go on to the next topic. I did all the objects last and began to feel redundant in some notes and found I missed a few things I shouldn't have (oops). In final note, Please review your notes before embarking on the assessment if your looking for a real good score. The questions do expect you to know the material well.

  Katherine Zimmerman (Arlington, VA) on January 6, 2011
  I used this SciPack this summer for a course through NSTA. I found this SciPack to be incredible informative and easy to read and understand on my own. I have even used the Science Objects with my classes, and I am a Life Science teacher. The science objects about Earth Science have helped me explain why various life processes occur the way they do, and the students have a better understanding of why life processes occur. As someone who does not even teach the topics addressed in this SciPack I found used it immensely in my classroom!

Good Content
  Nikki T on December 31, 2010
  This scipack was very informative and help to refresh my knowledge. I wish it had a simulation that explained why we only see one side of the moon.

Great Content
  Nikki T on December 25, 2010
  I thoroughly enjoyed perusing this text to expand my intellect. The simulations were extremely interactive.

Wonderful teaching Tool
  Mary on November 14, 2010
  This site is an excellent teaching tool that all teacher regardless of the grade he/she teaches will find this site useer friendly and rather simple to manipulate. I can see the wheels turning in the minds of teachers who teach science now.

Earth sun and Moon
  Kim M on August 3, 2009
  This is a very good source for material for Earth science in the middle school settings. I will be able to use so much of this in my teaching.

Earth, Sun, and Moon
  Taylor on October 14, 2015
  I feel that this resource is very informational and provides many hands on activities, that is very beneficial for young students. I would love to use this resource for my future students.

Great Job!
  Kayla N on April 5, 2013
  This scipack was well put together and the final assessment was a piece of cake .

Earth, Sun, and Moon
  James Johnson (Custer City, PA) on November 23, 2012
  I just finished the test and I thought most of it was straightforward but there were a few questions that seemed like they were curve breaker questions that were unnecessarily complex compared to most of the other questions. I just don't like "trick" questions and testing for minutiae.

An excellent resource
  Erik (Bountiful, UT) on May 10, 2012
  This SciPack really helps to demonstrate the interplay between the Earth, Sun and Moon. They truly are a unique system in our solar system, and this resource demonstrates and explains that very well.

Earth, Sun, and Moon
  Ken L on March 16, 2012
  I have to be honest, I had a hard time learning this subject matter. I spent most of my life looking at living things and literally have a 5th grade knowledge of astronomy. I guess living in Hawaii and working with fish for most of my life, my eyes have looked toward the ocean, rather than the heavens. Overall, there were a lot of vocabulary words and these words are ones that I am not particularly accustomed to and many of them were not clearly explained, in my opinion. However, this helped me look at this from a student’s perspective and helped me realize that I need to explain important vocabulary words more carefully. I did find the history of astronomy interesting and learning how those before us made wonderful observations and were able to come up with theories based on limited knowledge and technology was amazing. If only I could teach my students observe and predict as they did! Learning about retrograde motion was interesting and never knew planets moved in that pattern. Again, for the early scientists to observe this and come up with a valid explanation was mind-blowing. I particularly had difficulty with the motion of the moon... again with my limited knowledge, a lot of it seemed counterintuitive. Learning the phases of the moon, looking at it from different perspectives (from the earth and from space) was a bit of a challenge for me, but I learned a lot nonetheless.. What I found particularly challenging was predicting the rising and setting of the moon. Don’t know why I had such trouble with this. Learning about the focus of the sun wasn’t explained well and I had to research this information to learn more about it. However, after learning it from other sources and then re-examining the hands on activity reinforced the concept so that I was then able to understand it. Finding out that the winter solstice occurred when the earth was closest to the sun was counterintuitive, but when learning about the angle of tilt of the earth and the causes of seasons helped put things into perspective. What was particularly useful for me was the pedagogical implications. Not having the knowledge, nor the teaching experience of this subject matter, the implications helped tie concepts together and was invaluable.

SciPack review
  Jenn on January 9, 2012
  This is a very appropriate resource for High School level content, but at time the curriculum was way above the average Elementary level. I participted to help bulid my content knowledge, but at times was even more confused than when I began. Although I understand the necessity of in depth investigations and criteria, I wish there were levels of content delivery which educators could select based on state standards. Overall it was very descriptive, but lacked interactivity at times. I appreciate the auditory component and the ability to view animations.

  Kelly (Brewster, NY) on December 19, 2011
  This SciPack really helped me better understand earth, moon and sun. I used the first part primarily for my lesson and the students loved the graphics. It helped them understand the word sphere better.

info and visuals
  Kathleen Foley on November 26, 2011
  This scipack has a lot of information and great visuals for refresher for teachers, or to use to help create notes/lesson plans for students. I just wish some of the visuals were easy to access to utilize in my classroom.

  kristin mancusi-johnson on February 2, 2011
  I am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to complete this scipack, as a part of my summer online course with the same title. I am currently starting my Earth in Space curriculum, and have already turned to many of the resources acquired through this scipack to help my planning of lessons.

eath, sun, and moon
  Matt Clark on April 1, 2013
  fun scipack

Good content, but typos & odd evaluation ?s
  Joshua Kohn (Saint Paul, MN) on October 25, 2011
  This SciPack had some good overall information, but I noticed numerous typos and I am sure one of the True/False questions has the incorrect answer regarding how many waxing crescent moons there are in one lunar cycle in the SciObject. (I believe the answer is 1, but the quiz says that is incorrect) Also, the final evaluation has some very oddly worded questions and some that require the user to make some pretty educated inferences on content that was mentioned in the SciPack, but not exactly as the question is presented.