Fall 2009: Day 5

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Day 5 Topics

Discussion About the Moon
Moon Dance 1
Mirror Height Activity
Ning Websites

Peer Instructor Reflection

Fall 2009: Day 5
Written by: Katie Kizer

Over the weekend, the moon had been half lit. We asked the students if anyone had seen it. A few of them had. We also asked them if they estimated the angle between the sun and the moon when the moon was half lit. No one had written down an exact estimate, but they knew it had been less than their previous observations of about 110 degrees. Michele led the conversations that took place. She probed them for more discussion about what they already knew. After talking about their previous observations, the students came to the conclusion that as the moon has been getting smaller, so has the angle between the sun and the moon.

I found the next part of class to be very fun. Everyone was given a styrofoam ball to place on the end of their pencils. Emily turned on the lamp at one side of the room and turned all the other light sources off. When students held up their styrofoam balls, they noticed there were shadows on them. Emily explained that the lamp represented the sun, the styrofoam balls represented the moon, and each person's head represented the earth. We asked them where the moon would need to be for us to see all of it, half of it, and none of it. The students moved the balls around their heads to represent these different ideas. Using our observations from before, we had the students re-enact what they had seen. Start out by having a full moon. (The students placed their balls away from the light source in line with, but above their heads). Next, use your balls to demonstrate a half lit moon on the left side. We asked them to think back to our observations. About how long did it take for the moon to go from full to half lit? They guessed about one week. With this model, the students concluded that the moon was traveling in a counter-clockwise direction around the earth. Also, that it would probably take about four weeks for the moon to travel all the way around the earth. This would be an excellent model to use with children because it gets them to use their observations and apply them to a hands-on learning activity.

We further explored one of the homework questions that most of the students seemed to have trouble with. The question was “How much of a mirror do we need to see all of ourselves in it?” First, we discussed what they already knew. Then, each group drew a ray diagram from a person’s feet to their eyes, and from the top of their head to their eyes. This showed how much of the mirror was actually used. The answer ended up being half of a person's height. Each group had a slightly different way of explaining this phenomena in front of the class. They also found out that you still only need half of your height to see all of yourself in a mirror if you are further away from the mirror. Everyone thought this was fascinating because it is not what they had expected!

At the end of class, everyone recorded their powerful ideas, learning processes, pictures, and explanations on Ning. By doing this at the end of class each day, students are able to reflect on how their ideas and learning processes are growing and developing. I think they will greatly appreciate having to do this daily in the future.

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