Earth, Moon, and Stars

Grades 5—8

Written by Cary I. Sneider

If the Earth is a ball, why does it look flat? Why does the moon change its shape? How can I find constellations and tell time by the stars?

In this research-based unit, students answer these and other questions and learn a great deal about the Earth, gravity, and astronomy. Sections focus on the shape of the Earth and gravity; moon phases and eclipses; and the stars. In activities that involve real-world sky gazing, students observe and record changes in the sky and create models to explain their observations. A challenging questionnaire on the EarthÝs shape and gravity can be used as a pre- and post- assessment tool.

Independent research has found this unit particularly effective in helping students unravel their misconceptions about the Earth's shape, gravity, orbit, and relationship to the rest of the universe, and create a more accurate model of the world. Details of this study are available on the page "
Educational Effectiveness of GEMS."

This wide-ranging interdisciplinary unit also connects to world cultures through its exploration of myths about the rising and setting of the sun. It makes an exciting astronomical connection to the GEMS guides
Messages from Space and Moons of Jupiter.

Time: Six 40- to 45-minute sessions; four 20- to 30-minute sessions; six 15-minute sessions.

See the Earth, Moon, and Stars online orientation video.

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Literature Connections

Does Earth rotate?

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price


Grades 5—8

16 sessions,
176 pages


Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2004 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated December 29, 2020