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Generating Questions About the Sun and Moon

Student-generated questions set the stage for intrinsically motivated student exploration. The nature of this class involves the process of inquiry to frame questions, to generate ideas, and to explore, with the intent of developing scientific knowledge and understanding. After watching the sky for several weeks, the students generate questions about the sun and/or the moon that they can explore through more systematic observation. Once small groups have framed their questions in class, they make predictions and plans for observations. In time, students make inferences about the “answers” to their questions by pulling the pieces together, by discussing, and by making continued predictions and observations.

Common Example Questions:

How does the moon move throughout the day?

  • Students would need to make several hourly observations.

How does the moon move over the course of several days?

  • Students would need to make several observations at the same time over multiple days.

Student Generated Questions

Does the moon rise and set just like the sun? How does the moon move across the sky in a 24-hour period?
Questions About the Moon
During small group disussions, my table desparately wanted to answer the question “Does the moon rise and set just like the sun?” In order to find clues to the answer we sought, the four of us determined a schedule to observe the moon periodically every afternoon and night in one hour intervals. After the experiment, we discovered that although the moon did rise and set like the sun, it was changing its rising and setting times throughout the month.
Not only did we answer our question with these observations, but we also made several other observations including the relationship between the angles of the sun in accordance with the moon and the fact that when the moon is waxing the sun is on the right side while the opposite is true for a waning moon.

How will the shape of the moon change over the next week? What will the next phase of the moon be?

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