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Phases of the Moon

Look up into the night sky and what do you see? As our closest neighbour in space, the Moon is usually the brightest object in the night sky. The Moon orbits around Earth once every 29 days. Conduct different experiments and learn about the different phases of the Moon!

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Plan

  • Where will you get chocolate cookies with white cream filling? Make sure everyone can eat them.
  • Where will you get a ball that you can paint black and white?
  • What does the Moon look like when you see it in the night sky? What do you know already about the phases of the Moon?

Do

  • The Moon orbits around Earth once every 29 days. Over that time, the Moon goes from being invisible (what we call a “new moon”) to gradually appearing as a full circle in the sky, and then shrinking away again.
  • Explore the phases of the Moon using a ball that is painted white on one side and black on the other.
  • Keep one side facing the Sun while the Moon moves around the group.
  • How much of the white paint can you see as the Moon moves around the circle?
  • Scrape icing off of cream-filled cookies to show the different phases of the Moon that you saw.

Phases of the Moon

  • Divide the ball in half. Paint one side black and the other side white. The white side represents the half of the Moon that is lit up by the Sun.
  • Choose one side of your meeting area to be the Sun.
  • One person will hold the Moon. Everyone else should sit or stand together in a group. This group is Earth.
  • Slowly, the Moon travels in a circle around the group, as if it were orbiting Earth, making sure that the white side is always facing the Sun.
  • What do you see from Earth as the Moon goes by?

Cookie Moons

  • Each person will need eight cookies for this adventure.
  • Slowly twist your cookies apart, trying to keep the icing intact.
  • Scrape or eat away the icing to create the different phases of the Moon.
  • Can you line them up from new moon to full moon and back?
  • You may not want to eat all of the cookies at the end of this adventure. You might put some into small bags to take home.

Review

  • What do you know now that you did not know before?
  • What did you notice as the Moon-ball moved around the earth?
  • How do the phases of the Moon change over the course of a month?
  • What elements of STEM were in this adventure? Science? Technology? Engineering? Mathematics?
  • What did you like about this adventure? What did you not like? How would you do this adventure differently?

Keep it Simple

  • Take your meeting outside and take a look at the moon! What phase is it in? Draw how the moon looks in that phase. At your next few meetings, take a few minutes to look at the moon! What phase is it in now? How does it look different from the week before?

Take it Further

  • When is the next lunar eclipse? Make plans to watch it!