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With the total solar eclipse fast approaching I thought it would be fun for us to create some models to show just how the Earth, Sun and Moon line up to create the eclipse.
Obviously this project isn’t a scale representation, but that will just lead to some other discussion topics for your classroom.
You can use this model to talk about axial rotation of the earth and moon, as well as their orbital paths. I wowed the kids today when they learned that the moon rotates too! The reason we always see the one face of the moon is because it’s rotation takes 28 days just like it’s trip around the Earth.
The different kinds of eclipses is another great topic for discussion. Explaining the difference between a total eclipse and an annular eclipse, as well as how a partial eclipse might happen. Don’t forget to throw in some conversation about the umbra, penumbra and antumbra.
Print out the project printable from below onto cardstock. Clicking on it will take you to a pdf view.
Color the Sun, Earth, and Moon however you want then cut out the 3 circles and 2 strips.
Punch holes through the dots in the center of the 3 circles, on both ends of the longest strip, and on one end of the shorter strip.
Attach the Sun to one end of the longest strip with a brad.
Attach the Earth to the opposite end of the longest strip and the shorter strip on the side with the hole, securing with a brad.
The shorter strip will be a bit too long to put the moon right on the end of it, so I rotate the shorter strip around so it’s between the Sun and Earth, then mark where I want the hole for the moon to go. Punch that hole and attach the Moon to that spot with a brad. Trim away any excess.
Optional: Stabilize the longer strip by taping a popsicle stick to the back of it.
Now each circle should be able to rotate, as well as moving the arms around the respective circles. Have fun exploring the movement of the Earth and Moon and creating your own model for how the eclipse happens!
What is your favorite method to teach kids about the eclipse? Share your ideas in the comments below.