Most of us have difficulty imagining the size of the solar system. Just looking at the numbers is often not enough.
A good example of this is the distance to the moon.
An encyclopedia tells us that the average distance to the moon is 384 000 km. But how far is that?
Take a globe.
If we took the moon and reduced it to scale how far away should the moon be from this globe?
Ask a few students to stand where they think the moon should be placed.
When asked to hold a small ball (the moon) its correct distance from the globe students usually hold it about a meter away
With a class, I would assign the following homework:
We list on the board ways to get information.
Books, computer, TV. Library
We discuss this list and I add relatives and classmates.
They are then asked to check in an encyclopedia, library, the internet or call a classmate or relative for these two facts.
1. What is the circumference of the Earth? The length of the equator.
2. What is the average distance to the moon?
In Nova Scotia ... Kilometers please.
The next day we recorded the results on the Board.
We usually agree that the length of the Equator is 40 000 km.
The average distance to the moon is about 384 000 km. (we might talk about apogee and perigee at a later time.)
Then I would pass out paper and calculators and ask them to form groups and calculate how many trips around the Equator would equal a trip to the moon. They were asked to show their calculations and to make sure to show the answer in a statement.
After the groups had time to present their findings I would take our globe and some yarn.
Since we found that a trip to the moon is equal to 9.5 trips around the Equator we would wrap the yarn around the Equator and then cut it and unwind it.
We were always surprised that the moon's orbit would not fit inside the classroom and we would have to go outside or to the gym to unwind the yarn.
Evaluation : I used a 6 point rubric for the groups.
Solves problem correctly
Answers problem with written statement.
Makes correct statement.
Shows evidence of cooperative work.
Follow up: Display work. If possible schedule Interview with groups that have problems. ex. " A trip around the equator is the same as going 9.5 times around the moon."
Examples of Group Work
October 2009 Petite Elementary
Devan. & Johua's Solution
40 000 + 40 000 + 40 000 + 40 000 + 40 000 + 40 000 +40 000 + 40 000 + 40 000 + 20 000 = 380 000
9 x 40 000 + 20 000 = 9 1/2 times
A trip to the moon = 9 1/2 times around the Earth
October 2009 Petite Elementary
Shelby Kaitlyn and Bubbles
40 000 x 1 = 40 000
40 000 x 2 = 80 000
40 000 x 3 =120 000
40 000 x 4 = 160 000
40 000 x 5 = 200 000
40 000 x 6 = 240 000
40 000 x 7 = 280 000
40 000 x 8 = 320 000
40 000 x 9 = 360 000
9 1/2 = 360 000 + 20 000
Extra: A trip to the sun = 390 trips to the moon so how many times would we have to wrap our yarn around the equator to equal a trip to the sun?
Want to find out more about the Moon? Check out our Moon page.
Check out Jeff's Space and Science Pages for more info
on the size of the Solar System.
Nine Planets info on the moon
The Moon Starchild NASA
Thank you for visiting the How far is the Moon page.
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