Rooftop Explorations

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Fall 2009-Day 3
Sun/Earth/Moon System Phenomena

Video: of Rooftop Explorations

The students traveled outside and onto the roof of the science building to make some observations of the sun and moon in their sky journals. The students were asked to note the angle between the sun and the moon while they pointed one arm at each. Having a concrete observation to elaborate upon provides the basis for questioning and for further discoveries.arm_angles-sun_and_moon.jpg

The instructor asked the students questions that got them to explain the scientific phenomena that they were observing. The instructor asked a series of questions such as: “Can I have a volunteer for someone to show the measurement you just made? Tell us what you are doing. What did you draw in your sky journals? What are you pointing at? What does the moon look like? Which side of the moon isn't full? What are your predictions for next Thursday? What will the moon look like? Where will it be?” By engaging one student in the literacy process of speaking to explain what was occurring while the others listened, the instructor provided the students in the class with a way to process what was happening and got them to orient themselves for further exploration of the sun and the moon.

dyingmoon.jpgWhen the student who had been responding did not immediately respond to the question that asked for her predictions for Thursday, another student chimed in to help her peers expand their thinking. She explained a theory she had learned in a Highlights magazine about a little “b” or a little “d.” She explained, “You put your finger up to the flattest part of the moon, and if it makes a “b” it is a baby moon, which means it is growing. But if it is a “d,” it is a dying moon, which means its getting smaller.” By holding their fingers up in the shape of a “b” or “d,” the students were able to determine that the moon appeared to look like a “d.” Using their classmates theory, they predicted that the moon would look smaller in a few days because it looked like a “dying” moon.

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