Earth and Space - Earth in space - Sun, Moon & Stars - G6
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ISE 5-14 Curriculum Support Materials                                                           Overview advice

Group 6 exemplar Earth & Space  - Sun, Moon & Stars (Word)

See also alternative materials developed for this attainment target by the South East Earth and Space CPD Consortium.
The timing of this topic could be important. Try to do this in the Autumn or Winter when it gets dark early.

Night vision systems to see in the dark - click for web-site1. Start this topic with a discussion about day and night, if possible introduce it with a story of some sort. Elicit from the children the main differences between day and night - temperature, light, time, Sun and Moon, activity. Look out for the Moon during the daytime since it is often visible.

Optional point for some students- You may want to say that at night we mainly see in black and white (this is because we use a different set of nerve cells in low light conditions) and it takes about five to ten minutes of being in the dark before our vision is adjusted (we call it ‘dark adapted’) to see as much as possible. You can of course see the coloured navigation lights of a plane if it flies across the night sky.

That is why when you first switch the light off, you can’t see very much but as your eye shuts down the ‘daylight’ cells and starts up the 'night light' cells, your vision becomes better and better and you can start to pick out details in your surroundings. Your eye switches back instantly when the light goes on again.

3. Find out what the children know about the Sun and talk in general terms about it. Worksheet A1a (G) can be used for the children to colour in and label the Earth, Sun and Moon.

Remember to point out to the children the dangers of looking at the Sun. You must never look directly at the Sun or you may cause permanent damage to your eyes.

There are various ways in which an image of the Sun can be made which can be looked at safely.

The easiest way to show the children is to use a piece of paper as a screen and hold a pair of binoculars as shown opposite.

By adjusting the distance of the binoculars from the paper you can focus an image of the Sun on the paper which the children can look at safely.

Be aware of the danger of anyone looking at the Sun through the binoculars directly and make sure that they are constantly in your charge.

Sun facts

The Sun is the centre of our Solar System. It is 1,400,000 km in diameter and the temperature on the surface is 5,500 degrees Centigrade. It takes light from the Sun 8 minutes 20 seconds to reach the Earth.

Solar flares linkThe Sun is an enormous nuclear reactor and produces light and heat energy changes which happen at its centre. The surface of the Sun is not solid but consists of extremely hot gases which are constantly erupting rather like the surface of boiling water. Sometimes these eruptions throw out columns of hot Aurora Borealisgas and flame for thousands of miles out into space. These eruptions are called solar flares and can affect us here on Earth because they send out streams of particles towards us. When these particles reach Earth they can cause disruption of TV reception and lights in the sky - known here as the Aurora Borealis.

sun linkWhen the Sun is directly overhead we see it through the thickness of our atmosphere as it really is. When the Sun gets low on the horizon it appears larger and redder. This is an effect of looking at it through much more atmosphere which acts a bit like a magnifying glass and distorts our view.

4. Again, find out what the children know about the Moon and talk about that. The important point to get over here is that the Moon does not produce any light itself but simply acts as a mirror for the Sun.

You may be able to demonstrate this in a darkened room using a torch with a narrow beam and a football covered with tinfoil to represent the Moon.

Allow the children to view the ‘Moon’ from different positions to see how the ‘lit up’ shape varies.

Ask the children to look at the moon at regular intervals - say twice a week - and to draw what they see (basic shape not details). To do this you need to choose a time of year when the moon is likely to be visible before the children go to bed! At times the moon can be seen during the day and this may be helpful. Worksheet A1b (G) can be used for their drawings.

Click here to go to NASA

As an extension of this you could show the children pictures of the Moon’s surface and compare it to that of the Earth. Any film of the astronauts on the Moon will fire interest in reduced weight (less gravity), atmosphere etc. and provide plenty of lively discussion and opportunities for artwork.


The hammer & feather experiment on the Moon

Moon facts

The core of the Earth is very hot - at 5000 deg.C, nearly as hot as the surface of the Sun. The Moon however does not as far as we know have a hot core - it is simply an enormous lump of rock. It is about 405,000 km away from Earth and takes 27.3 days to orbit the Earth. Gravity on the Moon is only one sixth of that on Earth and is not sufficient to hold an atmosphere in place.

 5. Talk about stars and find out what the children know about the night sky. Worksheet A1c (G) gives some of the common constellations although this concept is very difficult to grasp at this age.

The brightest ‘star’ in the sky is likely to actually be one of the planets rather than a star - depending on the time of year.