After recreating Aristotle's discovery that the Earth is round, students will create a moon box to model the phases of our moon.
Students probably know that Earth is spherical, but you can have a discussion about how Aristotle came to this conclusion so long ago and what it might have been like if Earth were flat.
Some people think that Christopher Columbus' voyage in 1492 proved that Earth was round. However, Aristotle's studies proved this nearly 2000 years before Columbus. Aristotle had two arguments: first, that during a total lunar eclipse Earth casts a curved shadow on the moon. He concluded that Earth would have to be spherical. Second, the fact that a person who traveled north or south would be able to see new stars that hadn't been visible before. If Earth were flat people would all be able to see the same stars. During a lunar eclipse Earth comes between the Sun and the moon and casts a shadow on the moon.
1. Understand science concepts and principles.
Invitation to Learn
Have students draw any geometric shape on their paper. After everyone has drawn their shape tell the students to add seven large land masses on their shape. Tell each student to color the land masses brown and the remaining areas blue to represent the ocean. Tell students to imagine what it would be like if Earth were the shape of their drawing. Have students list on their paper different problems that might come about because of their shape. Allow students to present their geometric "Earths" and talk about the possible problems of the different shapes.
Talk about how Aristotle discovered 2000 years before Columbus that the Earth is round. Talk about misconceptions and different theories that existed anciently. Take an imaginary trip around a "flat world". Play What If posing questions on how life would be different.
Students pose the question: How do we know that Earth is round? Have them record any previous knowledge or experience and information from your previous discussion.
Hypothesis: Students record their own hypothesis of how we know that Earth is round in their journal.
Place the lamp in the middle of the room and darken the rest of the room. One student holds the foam ball in the light of the lamp. Another student uses his or her model of Earth to cast a shadow on the moon.
Students draw what they see in their journals and make a conclusion. Discuss with the class how Aristotle discovered that Earth was round.
Now that students are familiar with the shape of Earth, let's talk about the moon.
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Literature: Read and discuss Kids Discover: Moon magazine. Use posters from the EDUGraphics (website below) that show different images of Earth if it were a different shape to further the discussion in the invitation to learn.
Video: Bill Nye the Science Guy: The Moon
Students share their moonbox with someone at home and challenge them with the scientific questions discussed in class.
Furner, Joseph M., Yahya, Noorchaya, and Duffy, Mary Lou. (2005). 20 Ways to teach mathematics: Strategies to reach all students. Intervention in School and Clinic, Volume 41, No. 1 (September 2005), Pages 15-23.
This article gives 20 ways to teach mathematics, but applies very much to teaching science as well. It talks about using concrete objects to explain abstract concepts and allow a lot of hands-on activities. It also talks about heterogeneous grouping for cooperative learning. Other tips in the article include using children's literature, Internet field trips, word bank charts, and auditory, visual, and kinesthetic approaches.
Jarrett, Denise. (1999). The inclusive classroom: Mathematics and science instruction for students with learning disabilities. It's 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.