Diagnostic Questions: Sun and Moon

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Diagnostic Questions
Sun/Earth/Moon System Phenomena

We ask students to respond to these diagnostic questions during the first week of the course, before they go outside to start making their sun and moon journals. We ask them to respond again during week 8, the week before their moon papers are due. We then give them their initial and current responses to use in the last section of the moon paper, in which they reflect on changes in their understandings of the phases of the moon, the nature of scientific explanations, and inquiry approaches to learning and teaching science.

Diagnostic Questions sunandmoondq.doc
* Why does it get dark at night?
* Why is it cold in the winter and hot in the summer?
* Why does the moon seem to have different shapes at different times?
* How would you define a “scientific explanation”?
* How would you define “inquiry approaches to learning and teaching”?

Student Responses

These images are of a student's responses to the sun and moon diagnostic questions both before and after the course of study in Physics 111. The changes in her thinking are quite wonderful over the course of the term.

Pre-Diagnostic Questions

Post- Diagnostic Questions

This student's understanding of the moon and why it has different shapes at different times has changed. She initially thought that “The earth shadows the moon from the sun,” which is incorrect. By the end of the term, she had a better explanation for why the moon looks differently at different times: “The moon appears to have different shapes because it is revolving around the earth, receiving sunlight in only certain portions. (Light travels in straight lines–> the illuminated portion is from our perspective.” This document also includes changes in this student's thinking about scientific explanations and inquiry approaches to learning and teaching.

Upon comparing her initial responses with her end of the term responses to the diagnostic questions, this student reflects upon the changes in her thinking about the sun, earth, and moon; scientific explanations; and about inquiry approaches to learning and teaching. reflection_about_changes_in_understanding.pdf

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