Moon Phase Demo
When I was student teaching last year I was struggling
to figure out a way to teach phases of the moon,
because I feel it is something difficult to teach and
it is also easy to misunderstand. I got this idea
from a professor at Bloomsburg University,
unfortunately I do not know his name, I didn't have
him for class, but it is wonderful.
This comes to me from Tiffany E. Smith
, Science Teacher at Stroudsburg Junior High School, PA who attended one of my workshops at the 2003 NSTA Convention in Philly. It's quite cool! Here it is in her own words.
I have some pictures on the web of it. The website
itself is very old, was never really complete, and
hasn't been updated but the pictures are there.
Hopefully the website will still be there when you
attempt to view it, Bloomsburg threatens to get rid of
your website after you graduate so I'm hoping that
- Take a large piece of cardboard and cut it into a
square. Mine is probably 1m x 1m or a bit larger.
- Spray paint it black on one side.
- Cut a circle in the center of the cardboard large
enough for a student to put his/her head through.
- Get 8 (or more if wanted) ping pong balls. Using a
black sharpie marker, color one half of each ball
- Ok here is where it is difficult to explain. Using
very strong glue (I used Duco cement), glue one ping
pong ball a determined distance from the center of the
cardboard. Ok let me try to explain this better.
Look at your piece of cardboard with the hole in the
center as if it were a compass. Go north of the hole
whatever distance you decide (we'll say 16 inches) and
glue the ping pong ball so that the black side is
facing east and the white side is facing west. Do the
same directly south, east, and west of the hole in the
center of the cardboard, at the same distance (16
inches). Be sure that the black sides of the ping
pong balls are all facing the same direction. Now,
you can do this at your NE, SE, SW, and NW directions
as well. When the glue dries, place the board over
your head, have someone hold it in place for you, and
you rotate. Whichever side the white half of the
balls face is where the sun is. Your head is the
earth. When you rotate, you are seeing the phases of
the moon. Common mistake is to have the people
holding the board to move, but this is wrong. You
just rotate. I think this thing is great!! It makes
the phases of the moon so easy to teach because they
can actually experience the position of the earth,
sun, and moon in a 3D way rather than 2D how most
textbooks try to teach it. The prof. I got the idea
from did not use glue, he used tiny screws to hold the
ping pong balls in place but I'm not that crafty. A
great place to get cardboard that large is from a
store that sells refrigerators, washers, and dryers.
Tiffany E. Smith
Stroudsburg Junior High School
I've included a couple of the pictures Tiffany had online just in case Bloomsburg deletes the site...