Earth and Moon Lab
This lab is conducted in two steps. The first activity uses a scale model to illustrate the relative size of the earth, the moon and the distance between them. The concepts, of a replica or physical model and scaling are introduced. The distortions of virtually all models and illustrations of the earth and moon relationship are discussed.
The second activity is a simulation of the nature of the motion of the moon relative to the earth and sun performed by the students and explains what causes the phases of the moon and why we always see the same face of the moon.
To prepare for the second activity the students are asked to make observations of the moon over about two weeks and record the observations on the data collection sheet provided. Observations should be on both different dates and, if possible, at different times on the same date. The students will be encouraged to continue observations after the lab and to see if they can predict what they will see based on their new knowledge.