Initial ideas about Sun, Moon, and Shadows

We are transitioning in inquiry to a *new-ish* topic, away from light, cameras, and the eye, and toward the sun, the moon, and shadows. The reason I saw new-ish, is because it’s still about light, but to everyone it feels like a new topic.

The launching activity was: “We are going to go outside in 10 minutes. Where will we have to look to find the sun, to the find the moon, and what will shadows look like?” … We discussed, made observations outside. Then we came back in, shared results, and a second question was asked, “What will the situation be in 2 hours when we go back out?” Then we went back out and made observations.

Here are a range of ideas, thoughts, and question I heard during our first day:

When we go outside we will find the sun toward the east, because the sun always rises in the east.

When we go outside, we will find the sun toward the south, because I remember seeing it that way recently.

The sun and the moon are (typically) on opposite sides of each other. Since the sun is out, the moon cannot be out. While many said this can’t always be true, because of an eclipse, many also realized that eclipses are rare events, so it’s an exception to the rule.

The sun and the moon are typically on opposite sides of each other, so if it is out, and the sun is toward the east, the moon should be toward the west.

The moon will mostly likely not be out, because it’s out less often during the day.

Since we found the sun in the southeast sky (and not exactly east), the sun will actually set in the northwest sky, making a big arc across the sky.

Since we found the sun in the southeast sky, the sun must stay to the south as it moves across the sky. They just couldn’t see how the sun could get to the north. Question: Is the sun never in the north?

Since we found the moon in the south-west sky, the moon will need to move toward the east as the day goes on. This is because the moon needs to be out at night, and the moon wouldn’t have enough time to go all the way around, and still be back in time for night time.

When the sun is at its highest point (around noon), there will be no shadows, because the sun will be directly over head

When the sun is at its highest point, there will be a split/double shadow, because it will cast a shadow both ways.

When the sun is at its highest point, there cannot be no shadow, because it doesn’t ever seem there are no shadows. Maybe the shadow will be small, but there will still be a shadow.

Shadows will grow, and then shrink and then grow throughout the day, as the sun goes up and then back down.

Shadows will shrink and twist throughout the day, possibly going around like a clock.

At noon, shadows will be facing north.

When we saw the moon, the lit part of the moon was facing the sun. Will that always be true?


One thought on “Initial ideas about Sun, Moon, and Shadows

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  1. I cannot tell you how utterly fascinating I find each and every one of these posts where you list out your students’ ideas. Totally inspirational and elegant. Thanks again, as always.

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