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The whole class will create a night sky using white butcher paper and glow-in-the-dark crayons and then discuss the rotation of the Earth, the movement of the moon, and the position of the sun.
Until about 400 years ago, most people thought Earth to be the center of the universe with everything else revolving around it. Copernicus was one of the first astronomers to study the idea of a sun-centered universe. Galileo and many others later proved his theory correct. With this discovery came the knowledge that Earth rotated on an axis causing the sun and the stars to appear to move across the sky.
Some students may already know that Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun but probably can't explain why it seems that the other bodies appear to move through the sky. This lesson will allow students to draw conclusions to come up with their own explanations.
1. Understand science concepts and principles.
Invitation to Learn
Share parts of the book, The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. Talk about how inquiry drives discovery of new things and compare it to the curiosity of the main character Eratosthenes in the book. Explain to the class that we will be discovering the answer to a question posed by scientists many years ago.
Encourage students to think of questions like Eratosthenes in the book. Discuss questions that students may have about the earth, moon, stars etc. and use these questions to lead into the following activity.
Read Moonhorse by Mary Pope Osborne. Talk about constellations and how they are a group of stars that form a pattern.
As a class create a night sky using white butcher paper and glow-in-the-dark crayons. Each group of two to three students takes a section of the butcher paper and draws different constellations. Use constellation books (see references) or websites to show students which constellations are visible in the Northern Hemisphere and during the current season. Assign each group a specific constellation to draw on their piece of paper. Add other stars around it. Post them on the walls around the classroom. Put cards with different times of the night across the top.
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Jarrett, Denise. (1999). The inclusive classroom: mathematics and science instruction for students with learning disabilities. Its just good teaching.
This article discusses the benefit of using Inquiry-Based Science or in other words posing a question to students and providing activities and/or experiments to allow students to discover the answers to scientific questions themselves rather than just being told. The article talks about using varied levels of inquiry depending on the age and ability of the learners. The article poses the argument that inquiry based learning is a good way to help students with disabilities to be involved in the learning process in the regular classroom.