In this unit, we will be learning about how our planet’s movement affects us. We will explore the causes of day and night, as well as changes in the season’s. We will also discuss Earth’s moon and observe how its appearance in the sky changes in a consistent pattern known as a lunar cycle.
During this unit, we will also complete a moon journal project which will give you an opportunity to observe the different phases of the moon over a 30 day period. The instructions for this assignment and the moon journal chart to place in your science journal can be found in the resources section for this unit.
Lesson 1: The Cycle of Day and Night Day and night occur because of Earth’s rotation. Every 24 hours the earth rotates, or spins on its axis, once. This axis is an imaginary line through the earth between the North Pole and South Pole. As the earth rotates, different areas of its surface will face toward or away from the sun. The part of earth facing the sun will have daylight, while the part facing away from the sun will have night. By the end of this lesson, you should be able to answer and discuss the following: What causes the cycle of day and night on Earth? When it is day on one side of the earth, what is happening on the other side? How does Earth’s rotation affect the way we view the sun, the stars, and the planets around us? Download PDF Notes
Lesson 2: Earth’s Movement Around the Sun In lesson 2, we will look at how the earth moves in space. In addition to rotating on its axis, our planet is also constantly moving in an elliptical orbit around the sun. This orbital motion is called revolution. One revolution refers to the earth making one complete trip around the sun. It takes our planet about 365 days to revolve once. Because Earth’s axis is tilted, the northern and southern hemispheres will either be tilted toward or away from the sun. Depending on where Earth is in its revolution, this will change throughout the year. As one hemisphere tilts directly toward the sun, that hemisphere will experience summer, while the hemisphere tilted away from the sun will experience winter. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 3: Earth’s Moon In lesson 3, we will be learning about the physical features of Earth’s moon. The moon is our planet’s only natural satellite, and it revolves around the earth approximately every 28 days. Despite its barren, lifeless appearance, the moon has many interesting physical features. Unlike our planet, the moon has no atmosphere, so it is unable to support life. Its lack of an atmosphere also makes it more vulnerable to being struck by asteroids, meteorites, and other objects from space. On earth our atmosphere is able to break apart and burn up small objects before the strike our planet, but on the moon, impacts are much more common. This creates the moon’s uneven, cratered surface. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 4: Phases of the Moon As the moon revolves around the Earth, its appearance in the sky changes. Our final lesson of this unit will explore these changes in appearance, also known as moon phases. Although one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun, the moon’s position in its orbit determines the amount of the illuminated portion that we see. This can range from a new moon, in which the entire darkened half of the moon faces Earth; to the full moon, in which we are able to see the entire illuminated portion. During the 28 day lunar cycle, the moon makes one revolution around Earth. This allows us to see the moon wax larger toward the full moon phase and wane toward a new moon phase. Download PDF Notes
Resources and Other Documentation
Scientific Observation: Moon Journal Developing good observational skills is important for all science students. During this unit, students will complete a 30 day observation of the moon’s appearance in the sky. Using the Moon Journal Calendar, students should draw the moon’s appearance for each night, using white to show the illuminated portion and shading in the darkened portion. This 30 day observation will allow students to see a complete lunar cycle over the course of this unit. During the new moon phase, students should shade the entire moon and label as “New Moon.” In the event that the moon is obscured by clouds or can otherwise not be seen, students should label that day’s box with a description of the reason why the moon was not visible. At the conclusion of the 30 day observation, students will write a reflection of their observations and what they learned in their science journals.
Unit 1 Guided Notes The guided notes for each unit provide students with a printable copy of notes summarizing the content from each class. Blanks are inserted into the notes where key facts or content should appear. As information is covered during class, students should write missing content into the blanks to complete the guided notes. These guided notes may also be used as a review tool for unit tests. Students may print a copy of the guided notes and fill in the missing content. This can be checked using the complete PDF notes for each lesson.