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The following is a set of suggested activities for a third grade curriculum unit on the Earth/Sun/Moon system. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of the motions of the three objects in the system and the way in which they determine the periodic changes we observe. In particular, students should develop an understanding of the way the Earth's daily rotation determines the cycle of light and dark that we call day and night; the way the Moon's motion about Earth determines the monthly cycle of lunar phases; and the way the Earth's orbital motion around the Sun determines the annual cycle of seasons. We also discuss how eclipses - solar as well as lunar - come about.The cyclic changes we discuss are a visible and essential part of students' experience. In finding that they can systematically state, quantify, and model these changes, and that they can furthermore comprehend the astronomical phenomena that underlie them, students acquire not only a familiarity with scientific methods and facts but also a sense that these methods render the physical universe they inhabit essentially comprehensible. This in itself is an important aspect of teaching the unit, and we have attempted to structure the activities to make it explicit. The activities are constructed to fulfill the requirements of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study objectives for third grade science. Included in these is an understanding of some aspects of the nature of Light. Several of the activities address this - they occur early in the Unit, as the facts about light are used extensively in the following Activities. As a study of light this is woefully incomplete; some related enrichment activities are included for teachers interested in taking this to slightly greater depth.
This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2011-09-29.
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