Build A Unit!
Unit Planning Pack with Resources
Subject Area/Grade: Earth Science, Grade Four Title: Earth in the Universe Day/Night & Moon
1 Unit Theme:
(to be completed by the unit organizer)
2 Conceptual Lens:
(to be completed by the unit organizer)
3 Identify the Big Ideas: Crosscutting Concepts
(Align to Essential Standards)
Systems and System Models
4 Enduring Understanding
Predictable patterns and cycles are a result of changes in the Earth’s relative position in space.
The rotation of Earth on its axis causes day and night.
The moon’s monthly orbit around Earth, the relative positions of the sun, the moon, and the observer and the fact that it shines by
reflected sunlight explain the observed phases of the moon.
5 Essential Questions
What causes day and night?
How does the moon’s appearance change over time?
What patterns of change can we observe in the sky?
What causes the phases of the moon to change?
NC Science Essential Standards
4.E.1 Explain the causes of day and night and phases of the moon.
4.E.1.1 Explain the cause of day and night based on the rotation of Earth on its axis.
4.E.1.2 Explain the monthly changes in the appearance of the moon, based on the moon’s orbit around the Earth.
Day, night, earth, moon, sun, sky, appearance, change, pattern, month
GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS: (Some for teachers, some for students)
Qwiki Moon http://www.qwiki.com/q/Moon
Day and night organizer http://www.eduplace.com/science/hmsc/content/organizer/1/org_1d_9_1.pdf
Printable calendar http://www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/scottforesman/sci_2_ARS_C3_inv2.pdf
Atlas of Science Literacy Strand Map http://strandmaps.nsdl.org/?id=SMS-MAP-1282
Enchanted Learning graphic organizers blank http://www.enchantedlearning.com/graphicorganizers/
Science For All Americans (minimum ADULT content knowledge)
The motion of the earth and its position with regard to the sun and the moon have noticeable effects. The earth's one-year
revolution around the sun, because of the tilt of the earth's axis, changes how directly sunlight falls on one part or another of the
earth. This difference in heating different parts of the earth's surface produces seasonal variations in climate. The rotation of the
planet on its axis every 24 hours produces the planet's night-and-day cycle—and (to observers on earth) makes it seem as though
the sun, planets, stars, and moon are orbiting the earth. The combination of the earth's motion and the moon's own orbit around the
earth, once in about 28 days, results in the phases of the moon (on the basis of the changing angle at which we see the sunlit side of
Next Generation Science Standards Framework (adults)
Core Idea ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe What is the universe, and what is Earth’s place in it?
The planet Earth is a tiny part of a vast universe that has developed over a huge expanse of time. The history of the universe, and of
the structures and objects within it, can be deciphered using observations of their present condition together with knowledge of
physics and chemistry. Similarly, the patterns of motion of the objects in the solar system can be described and predicted on the
basis of observations and an understanding of gravity. Comprehension of these patterns can be used to explain many Earth
phenomena, such as day and night, seasons, tides, and phases of the moon. Observations of other solar system objects and of
Earth itself can be used to determine Earth’s age and the history of large-scale changes in its surface.
ESS1.A: THE UNIVERSE AND ITS STARS
What is the universe, and what goes on in stars?
The sun is but one of a vast number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of a vast number of galaxies in the universe.
The universe began with a period of extreme and rapid expansion known as the Big Bang, which occurred about 13.7 billion years
ago. This theory is supported by the fact that it provides explanation of observations of distant galaxies receding from our own, of the
measured composition of stars and non-stellar gases, and of the maps and spectra of the primordial radiation (cosmic microwave
back- ground) that still fills the universe.
Nearly all observable matter in the universe is hydrogen or helium, which formed in the first minutes after the Big Bang. Elements
other than these remnants of the Big Bang continue to form within the cores of stars. Nuclear fusion within stars produces all atomic
nuclei lighter than and including iron, and the process releases the energy seen as starlight. Heavier elements are produced when
certain massive stars achieve a supernova stage and explode. Stars’ radiation of visible light and other forms of energy can be
measured and studied to develop explanations about the formation, age, and composition of the universe. Stars go through a
sequence of developmental stages—they are formed; evolve in size, mass, and brightness; and eventually burn out. Material from
earlier stars that exploded as supernovas is recycled to form younger stars and their planetary systems. The sun is a medium-sized
star about halfway through its predicted life span of about 10 billion years.
Grade Band Endpoints for ESS1.A
By the end of grade 2. Patterns of the motion of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, and predicted. At
night one can see the light coming from many stars with the naked eye, but telescopes make it possible to see many more and to
observe them and the moon and planets in greater detail.
By the end of grade 5. The sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it is closer. Stars range greatly in
their size and distance from Earth.
ESS1.B: EARTH AND THE SOLAR SYSTEM
What are the predictable patterns caused by Earth’s movement in the solar system?
The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects of varying sizes and conditions—including planets and their moons—
that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them. This system appears to have formed from a disk of dust and
gas, drawn together by gravity.
Earth and the moon, sun, and planets have predictable patterns of movement. These patterns, which are explainable by gravitational
forces and conservation laws, in turn explain many large-scale phenomena observed on Earth. Planetary motions around the sun
can be predicted using Kepler’s three empirical laws, which can be explained based on Newton’s theory of gravity. These orbits may
also change somewhat due to the gravitational effects from, or collisions with, other bodies. Gradual changes in the shape of Earth’s
orbit around the sun (over hundreds of thousands of years), together with the tilt of the planet’s spin axis (or axis of rotation), have
altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on Earth. These phenomena cause cycles of climate change, including the
relatively recent cycles of ice ages. Gravity holds Earth in orbit around the sun, and it holds the moon in orbit around Earth. The pulls
of gravity from the sun and the moon cause the patterns of ocean tides. The moon’s and sun’s positions relative to Earth cause lunar
and solar eclipses to occur. The moon’s monthly orbit around Earth, the relative positions of the sun, the moon, and the observer and
the fact that it shines by reflected sunlight explain the observed phases of the moon. Even though Earth’s orbit is very nearly circular,
the intensity of sunlight falling on a given location on the planet’s surface changes as it orbits around the sun. Earth’s spin axis is
tilted relative to the plane of its orbit, and the seasons are a result of that tilt. The intensity of sunlight striking Earth’s surface is
greatest at the equator. Seasonal variations in that intensity are greatest at the poles.
Grade Band Endpoints for ESS1.B
By the end of grade 2. Seasonal patterns of sunrise and sunset can be observed, described, and predicted.
By the end of grade 5. The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an
axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily and seasonal changes in the
length and direction of shadows; phases of the moon; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day,
month, and year.
Some objects in the solar system can be seen with the naked eye. Planets in the night sky change positions and are not always
visible from Earth as they orbit the sun. Stars appear in patterns called constellations, which can be used for navigation and appear
to move together across the sky because of Earth’s rotation.
Benchmarks for Science Literacy (recommended grade band benchmarks)
Students should begin to develop an inventory of the variety of things in the universe. Planets can be shown to be different from stars
in two essential ways—their appearance and their motion. When a modest telescope or pair of binoculars is used instead of the
naked eyes, stars only look brighter—and more of them can be seen. The brighter planets, however, clearly are disks. (Not very
large disks except in good-sized telescopes, but impressive enough after seeing a lot of stars.) The fixed patterns of stars should be
made more explicit, although learning the constellation names is not important in itself. When students know that the star patterns
stay the same as they move across the sky (and gradually shift with the seasons), they can then observe that the planets change
their position against the pattern of stars.
Once students have looked directly at the stars, moon, and planets, use can be made of photographs of planets and their moons and
of various collections of stars to point out their variety of size, appearance, and motion. No particular educational value comes from
memorizing their names or counting them, although some students will enjoy doing so. Nor should students invest much time in
trying to get the scale of distances firmly in mind. As to numbers of stars in the universe, few children will have much of an idea of
what a billion is; thousands are enough of a challenge. (At this stage, a billion means more than a person could ever count one-at-a-
time in an entire lifetime.)
Students' grasp of many of the ideas of the composition and magnitude of the universe has to grow slowly over time. Moreover, in
spite of its common depiction, the sun-centered system seriously conflicts with common intuition. Students may need compelling
reasons to really abandon their earth-centered views. Unfortunately, some of the best reasons are subtle and make sense only at a
fairly high level of sophistication.
Some ideas about light and sight are prerequisite to understanding astronomical phenomena. Children should learn early that a large
light source at a great distance looks like a small light source that is much closer. This phenomenon should be observed directly
(and, if possible, photographically) outside at night. How things are seen by their reflected light is a difficult concept for children at this
age, but is probably necessary for them to learn before phases of the moon will make sense.
Unpacked Content (for students)
Students know that the Earth rotates on an axis and that this rotation causes one side of our planet to receive light rays
from the sun while the other side is in darkness (day/night). This rotation occurs over a 24-hour period.
Students know that the moon rotates and revolves around the Earth. The moon’s appearance (phase) is determined by
its position relative to the Earth and the Sun. The appearance of the moon changes in a specific pattern and repeats this
sequence over the course of approximately 28 days. During part of this cycle, the moon’s visible portion appears to grow
larger (waxes). This is followed by a period during which the moon’s visible portion appears to reduce in size (wanes).
Students are familiar with the following phases of the moon: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter.
Identify Student Misconceptions
* Formative probes should be adapted to a format that is suitable for your grade level and students
*Construct formative assessment probes – see ‘how to’ on pages 85, 102, and 183 in Science Formative Assessment by Page
Use formative probes: Uncovering Student ideas in Science, Volumes 1-4, by Page Keeley
Volume 1 Gazing at the Moon p.77, Volume 1 Going through a Phase p183, Volume 2 Darkness at night P.171
Volume 2 Emmy’s Moon and Stars p.177, Volume 4 Moonlight p.161
Formative Assessment Probes (articles, how-to, free-online) by Page Keeley, et al
North Carolina Connections: (local and state resources)
Morehead Planetarium www.moreheadplanetarium.org
Cummins Planetarium Rocky Mount http://museum.imperialcentre.org/planetarium.html
Fayetteville Planetarium http://astro.uncfsu.edu/planetarium/
Schiele Museum Planetarium http://www.schielemuseum.org/planetarium.php
Imagination Station Science Museum
Interactive programs are designed to promote student investigation into various science concepts. 224 East Nash Street, Wilson, NC
27894 Phone (252) 291-5113.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 West Jones St. Raleigh, NC 27601 919-733-7450
North Carolina Museum of Life and Science
Experience how inquiry-based teaching energizes your students and encourages science discovery. 433 West Murray Avenue
(street address), P.O. Box 15190, Durham, NC 27704, (919) 220-5429
SciWorks, the Science Center and Environmental Park of Forsyth County
Enjoy interactive, hands-on special exhibits and programs in spacious exhibit halls. 400 West Hanes Mill Rd., Winston-Salem, (336)
American Museum of Natural History
Lunar phase booklets
Model of earth/moon/sun system
Moon Phase Activity
Day and Night
Moon Phase activity
Moon Phases Images (choose the date)
Phases diagram and background information article
Modeling Day and Night (activity one)
Day and Night Modeling
Day and Night
Common Misconceptions with Day and Night
Day and Night
The Universe Series- Phases of the Moon
Bill Nye The Science Guy Season 1 Episode 11
Smart Exchange http://exchange.smarttech.com/search.html
A directory of Smart Board lessons that teachers can download and use.
Teachers Domain http://www.teachersdomain.org/
Free digital media for educational use.
1) Write an informative/explanatory text to explain the reason we have day and night.
2) Use digital tools to create a book showing moon phases and write information to explain images.
3) Write an informative text explaining why the moon appears different over the course of a month.
4) Write about an imaginary trip to the moon. Explain what you would need to bring and why?
5) Write an opinion piece about whether you think astronauts should return to the moon.
READING Resources (scroll to informational text)
Britannica School Edition
Light and Reflection