Moon Phase as a Context for Teaching Scale Factorby: Ann Wallace, Daniel Dickerson, and Sara Hopkins

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

The Sun and the Moon are our most visible neighbors in space, yet their distance and size relative to the Earth are often misunderstood. Science textbooks fuel this misconception because they regularly depict linear images of Moon phases without respect to the actual sizes of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, nor their correlated distances from one another. This integrated lesson is designed to help students communicate their ideas of the relative sizes and distances of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, and to construct appropriate understandings of how scaling factors can be used to make representations of astronomical distances.

• Middle
12/1/2007

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Reviews (4)
• on Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:52 PM

I really loved the idea of giving kids a context for using scale. It makes it so motivating! The article is also great for an idea to cause that "cognitive dissonance" necessary to help them change their misconceptions.

Wendy R (Pocatello, ID)

• on Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:49 PM

This article provides descriptions of an integrated unit combining moon phases and scale factors to enhance student understanding of both concepts. Samples of student work are provided to support how and why the concepts are combined. The description is clear and replicable.

Bambi Bailey (Tyler, TX)

• on Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:08 PM

After assessing students understanding and content about the Earth, moon and sun these authors noted that students have misconceptions about the scale of these heavenly bodies, the distances between them and how the sun’s rays are radiated onto these bodies. These authors provide a task sheet for students to perform that can help eliminate these misconceptions about size of these objects as well as distances between them.

• on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:22 AM

This article describes collaboration between university professors and a seventh grade class to present an integrated lesson of science and math. The concept of relative size and distance between the sun, moon and the Earth was studied and the concept of scaling factors was addressed to describe astronomical objects and distances. Students used diagrams to show results and it was concluded that science could be a way to learn mathematical content such as scale factors.