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ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

Learn about the phases of the moon with your own moon box

Suitable For

Grade 5

Difficulty

2

Time Required

 <24 Hours

Supervision

Advised

What’s it about?

Have you ever wondered what causes the moon phases? We all know that its appearance changes over time. But why? A good way to understand the phases of the moon is to examine the sun’s effect on the moon during its various phases, with the following science experiment:

Topics covered

Lunar month

What will I need?

  • SHOE BOX WITH LID
  • WHITE STYROFOAM BALL
  • BLACK STRING
  • BLACK PAINT
  • KNITTING NEEDLE
  • FLASHLIGHT
  • BOOKS

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

In this science experiment we made a model representing how much the moon is lit by the sun through the different phases of a full ‘lunar month’ that can be seen from the earth. Each of the eight ‘peep’ holes represents a different view of the moon as it moves through its phases of a ‘lunar month’. Astronomers call the views of the moon represented by holes 1, 3, 5 and 7 the ‘cardinal phases’ of the moon and is called ‘new-moon’, ‘half-moon’ or ‘full moon’. At a full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are in approximate alignment, just as the new moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth, so the entire sunlit part of the moon is facing us. The shadowed portion is entirely hidden from view.

After the new moon, the sunlit portion is increasing, but less than half, so it is called waxing crescent. After the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, but now it is more than half, so it is waxing gibbous. After the full moon, the light continually decreases, so the waning gibbous phase occurs next. Following the third quarter is the waning crescent, which wanes until the light is completely gone – a new moon.

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