This is a unit on the moon. It is intended for students in the third and fourth grades. I would encourage teachers to use this unit in conjunction with the study of the solar system. The time frame for the unit is one month, so as to coincide with one revolution of the moon around the earth.
The unit will provide teachers and their students with an in-depth study of the moon and will include other subject areas such as math, science, writing and art. What I have written will provide teachers with sufficient knowledge on the subject of the moon so as to enable them to be comfortable teaching the unit. Teachers should also encourage their students to use their library media center as another resource for information.
I chose to write my curriculum unit on the moon because it is so close and everyone has actually seen it, in contrast with other celestial bodies in our universe. I felt that if I studied the moon, it would be easier for me to relate this to my students because I had learned so much about it. My participation in the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute Astronomy Seminar and my research on the moon has made me realize how little I knew. I have learned a lot in the past few months and I now look at scientists, astronomers, astronauts and others who study the universe in a new way. The moon still has many mysteries left for us to discover. It is important for educators to encourage and spark the interest of our students in this fascinating area of science.
The New Haven Public School System has recently rewritten its curriculum. The science curriculum standards for astronomy state that students in the fourth grade should be able to identify objects in the sky, such as the sun, moon, planets and stars and they should be able to observe and describe their features and characteristics. Secondly, students will explain the characteristics and patterns of the movement of the moon.
The moon curriculum unit will address these content standards in a way that will encourage and motivate students to be life-long learners. The unit will attempt to answer the questions "What would life be like on earth if there were no moon?" and "What is it like on the moon?"
Man has been intrigued with the moon throughout the ages. In many cultures the moon has been the source of myths and legends. Rites, rituals and ceremonies have been held in honor of the moon. In ancient times the main importance of astronomy was its signaling of seasonal change. Harvesting and planting cycles were set by the sun, the moon and the stars. It was even believed that rays of the full moon caused insanity, hence our word "lunatic" which is derived from "luna" the Latin name for our nearest celestial neighbor.
The many stories and myths from around the world based on the moon, and which can be found in the library provide an excellent way to begin the curriculum unit on the moon. They will allow students to realize how far man and science have come throughout the ages and how in many cases our popular notions of the moon may not be very different from what people thought hundreds of years ago.
In 1609 Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) used the first refracting telescope. He was the first person to use a telescope for sky observation. Although Galileo used a very small telescope he not only was able to see craters on the moon but also four other moons orbiting the planet Jupiter. Galileo found that the moon was not a smooth, shiny, perfect sphere. The edges appeared jagged and uneven against the dark night sky.
The moon is the earth's only known natural satellite. A satellite is a body that orbits around another larger body. Therefore the moon is our satellite. The earth is a satellite of the sun. Seven of the nine planets have satellites. The giant planets have stronger gravity than the terrestrial planets and therefore have more moons .