It is essential that students recognize, observe and understand that the world around them is one of constant motion and change. In accordance with the National Science Education Standards as well as those dictated by the state of Connecticut, students are expected to achieve scientific literacy through hypothesizing, collecting and evaluating data and applying this knowledge to alternate situations. Through this process they will also need to differentiate the factual from the mythical. In doing this students are inheriting strategies to make logical decisions based on factual information which is then applied throughout multiple curricular and "real world" experiences.
I teach second grade at Vincent E. Mauro Magnet school in New Haven, Connecticut. Vincent Mauro is an interdistrict elementary school with a Science, Mathematics and Technology focus. My second grade classroom is in an urban district and is composed of a diverse, multicultural community of learners that encompass a wide spectrum of achievements, interests, learning and social needs. Students come not only from New Haven but from surrounding suburban communities as well. Since this classroom is a part of a science, mathematics and technology magnet school the students are provided with the means to explore their multiple intelligences and interests and utilize different learning styles to strive to reach their goals. Students are given opportunities to choose how they respond and how they are assessed on various integrated curricular tasks throughout the year. Assessment is done via a project driven rubric and students are not limited as to how much they can achieve.
In this 6-week unit, students will study the structure and characteristics of our Earth and Moon and examine their connections. They will compare and contrast the mythological tales about what the Moon is like with the scientific data obtained by astronomers of yesterday and today. Through various activities and experiments students will explore our Moon, specifically what it is, how it was formed, and what it is made of. Students will also, learn about the Moon's connection with the Earth. This will be done in terms of what we can see from Earth as well as what was seen and explored historically by the Apollo missions. Through this study, students will then gain the perspective that the Moon is the only celestial body other than the Earth that man has set foot on and the requirements to achieve such an accomplishment. Students will learn what past astronomers and astronauts have contributed to space exploration and the effects these have had on our own lives. Once this is achieved, students will delve into how an astronaut trains and investigate the possibility of another trip to the Moon or even Mars.
Prior to the start of this unit students will be required to begin to observe the Moon and its phases beginning with a full Moon so that students can visually comprehend its greatness. During this time, students will be required to complete a moon calendar documenting the changes of the Moon which will later be kept in their journal. This moon calendar will have pre drawn circles at each date. The student will observe the moon each night and shade in the circle to show what part of the Moon is lit. Below the circle on the moon calendar will be 4-5 lines where the students will be required to write their ideas about what they may notice about the Moon and what they think causes the changes. During this time, students will familiarize themselves with the appropriate names of each phase and the times at which the phases occur so that the students can later connect the times of Moon rise and Moonset with its phases and notice the correlating pattern.