"Investigating the Earth-Moon-Sun System"

"Investigating the Earth-Moon-Sun System"

Course(s)/Subject(s):Physical Science

Grade Level(s):8

Key Words:Native Americans; Legends of sun, moon and stars; Technology

Developer(s) Name:Nancy Gastrell

School:Washington Irving Middle School

Attached files:See Web Site Listings at end of this document

Approximate Time Frame:3 class periods (50 min.)

Materials/Equipment Needed:

Computer, printer, "Investigating the Earth-Moon-Sun System" lab resources

Description of Lesson (includes context):
In the 8 grade physical science unit, "Investigating the Earth-Moon-Sun System", is the "It's Just a Phase" activity in which students investigate the arrangement and movementof the sun, moon, and earth. This lab is designed to familiarize students with the daily, monthly and yearly cycles of these celestial bodies as well as the pertinent vocabulary. This information has been gained by astronomers using highly technical instruments in their research. However, for decades, astronomers had gained information gathered by ancient cultures and during the last 15 to 20 years, archeoastronomy has uncovered much concerning the astronomical beliefs of Native Americans. Storytelling was a very important method of record keeping among most Native Americans and this lends itself to the students retrieving Internet information on these legends concerning the earth, sun and moon. They will evaluate the explanation given in the story, make a comparison to the origin of present-day knowledge (use of telescopes, satellites, etc.),make an oralpresentation to the class andsubmit a written report by using ClarisWorks word processing.


  1. What is the objective of this lesson? The objective of this lesson is to have the students gain a broader understanding and appreciation for the process of scientific investigation, especially how observations and verbal or recorded data from ancient times have been the basis of our knowledge of the solar system.

FCPS POS Standards:123

FCPS POS Benchmarks:8.1.13,8.1.15,8.2.1,8.2.2,8.5.3

FCPS POS Indicators:



VA SOL(s)(including Computer/Technology):


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  1. What will we examine as evidence of students' knowledge and/or skill?

Product(s):Minimum two page paper written using ClarisWorks word processing.


Oral presentation of the legend and comparison to present-day



Student should have some sort of visual (costume, object, poster) when making

oral presentation.


  1. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:

  1. Students will first participate in the laboratory exercise, "It's Just a Phase".
  2. Discuss as a class the terms "rotation","revolution", "seasons", "eclipse";the scientific
    method of investigation; the instruments and technologyused by astronomers today to
    gather information .
  3. Discuss what ancient people might have thought about the causes of natural eventssuch
    as night and day.
  4. Discuss the Internet as one source of Native American legends of the moon, sun and earth.
  5. Students will learn to access an Internet site. The class will discuss site formats and the
    value of using links at various sites.
  6. Discuss the need to make hard copies of research material and to document sites carefully.
  7. Students will choose one of the web sites to use. See attached web site listings.
  8. Students will be instructed to create both written report on ClarisWorks word processing
    and an oral report on their story to present to the class.

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?

  1. Teacher will instruct students about moon phases, seasons by leading the "It's Just a
    Phase" lab for one class period.
  2. Teacher will lead a class discussion concerning moon phases, seasons, eclipses.
  3. The teacher will introduce the Internet as another source of information the students can

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use to gather information on a topic.

  1. Teacher will instruct students on how to access an Internet site and discuss formats and
    the value of links.
  2. Teacher will discuss the importance of proper documentation of Internet sites for research
  3. Teacher will direct students to choose one of the story web sites.
  4. Teacher will evaluate both a written report and an oral presentation by each student.
  5. Teacher will lead class discussions on information that is presented in the oral reports.


  1. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate
    achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s)?
  2. Discuss with teacher the information that was collected on the Internet. Relate the legend to
    one from the student's home country if they are a recent ESL student.
  3. Students can make a poster to replace written assessment to show information they found
    concerning the comparison of the legend to the present day knowledge.

Web Site Listings

  1. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Walks
    (Tsimshian:Sun, Moon, Stars)
  2. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Coyoteand Eagle
    (Zuni:Sun, Moon)
  3. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#BoyandSun
    (Hopi:Sun, Moon, Milky Way)
  4. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Sunand her
    (Cherokee:Sun, Moon)
  5. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Spiderand Sun
    (Cherokee:Sun, Milky Way)
  6. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#LittleBro
  7. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#FifthWorld
    (Toltec:Sun, Earth)

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  1. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Foxand Moon
  2. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Ravenand Sun
  3. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Coyote, Wolves
    (Wasco:Big Dipper)
  4. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#EveningStar
  5. http: www.ac.wwu.edu/~skyswise/legends.html#LostChildren
  6. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#CoyoteMoon
  7. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Fisher
    (Anishinabe:Big Dipper)
  8. http// www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/legends.html#Threeleg
    (Western Rocky:Sun, Moon, Stars)
  9. http// www.indians.org/welker/howthegr.htm
    (Moon, Sun)
  10. http// www.indians.org/welker/mornings.htm
    (Morning star)
  11. http// www.indians.org/welker/origsumm.htm
    (Summer, Winter)
  12. http// www.indians.org/welker/northsta.htm
    (North Star)