Graphing Spring Tides, Neap Tides, & Moon Phases

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Graphing Tides & Moon Phases

This activity ties together spring tides, neap tides, moon phases,  chart reading skills, graphing skills, and analyzing data skills. When making the worksheets, I used the data for high tides since it showed a better range of data for the students to create the graph.

This activity was also a good review on how to create line graphs by hand for two sets of data. Students are used to making bar graphs so we reviewed how to set up line graphs and plot points on the graph.

When plotting the data, you can really see the differences in the tidal heights. We also used the phrase “Neap ain’t that deep” to remember the difference between spring tides and neap tides.

Worksheets

  • Atlantic City, NJ – January 2015 High Tide Data worksheet (pdf)
  • Seaside Heights, NJ – February 2015 High Tide Data (pdf) (image link)
    • For example, in the year 2015, the February 18 new moon will closely align with perigee and the the September 28 full moon will closely coincide with perigee, to bring forth perigean spring tides.”~EarthSky
  • Blank Worksheet for students to choose data from a different location. (pdf)
  • Tide charts – select the state and city of your choice, set for Atlantic City (link)
  • Current Moon Phases – The Old Farmer’s Almanac (link)
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Using Real-Time Data: NOAA & Tides

Tides

I love when we have an opportunity to collect real-time data in class, as part of our unit on tides, we used NOAA’s website (link) to learn how to find real-time tide information, to learn how to read tide graphs and charts, and to find water temperatures for 10 different stations and compare their data. The kids enjoyed picking their own cities and sharing their findings.

Resources:

  • Tides Google Slides Public (link) – this is a shared Google Slide that gives some basic information on tides and then it goes into a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the NOAA website to collect information.
  • NOAA Tides Website (link)
  • Data Collection worksheet (pdf) – students will record and analyze their data

The second activity, included graphing information for high tides at Atlantic City for the month of January. Students will learn how to read a tide chart and graph tide data to see the relationship between tides and moon phases. This activity was also a great way to practice graphing skills. Creating graphs by hand, instead of on a computer, is something that they don’t get to do very often.

  • January Tides Worksheet (pdf) for Atlantic City, NJ.
  • Blank worksheet (pdf) for students to choose data from a different location.
  • Tide Charts (link) – set for New Jersey but you can pick different states and locations for monthly tides data.
  • For more lessons about the Moon, visit the Moon Page, under the Space Science tab.
  • Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MSScienceBlog

Where is the Moon? Hands on Activity to show the movement of the Sun and Moon across the sky, including Solar Eclipse

 

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UPDATED AUGUST 7, 2017

To help students better understand the phases of the moon and it’s relationship to the position of the sun, both in the sky and in space, I created this hands on activity. I also updated it to include a Solar Eclipse scenario.

Materials:

Whenever I start an activity, I always call all the student to one of the student desks to discuss/demonstrate the lesson. We had been discussing the phases of the moon and reviewed the order of the phases as I placed the laminated moons onto the desk.

I pointed out the crater Tycho and how it looks like the moon’s belly button. The ‘belly button’ always points towards the Earth (view from Northern Hemisphere), it is the southern part of the moon. This will help them to orientate the moon correctly when they go back to their desks. We completed the first scene together and discussed where to place the Sun and where to place the Moon, keeping in mind what rising and setting means, how we are looking at the landscape and reviewing Eastern, Southern, and Western parts of the sky.

Once we have discussed the directions, students are ready to start. They can’t move onto the next scene until I have checked their work. Once it is correct, they draw the scene into their handout and move onto the next scene. When they were stuck, I reminded them to go over the hints, and gave extra hints if needed.

For part 2, they had to show the phases around the Earth and what they look like from where we are standing in New Jersey. I reminded them to think of the spokes of a wheel and the Earth is at the center, and that we are looking from here on Earth out into space. Also reminded them about the ‘belly button’ always facing Earth. Also, if we were looking at the Earth and Moon from space, half of the moon would always be lit up – the side facing the Sun.

Once the students were finished, we reinforced what we learned by making a moon clock that they got to take home and keep. Once they completed their moon clock, they learned how to use it and answered questions to demonstrate their understanding. This was a great follow-up to this activity.

If you use this activity in your classroom, I would love to hear how it went.

For related lesson plans, please visit my Earth Science page.

Moon Phases – Sort and Flip Book

Moon Phases Sort
Moon Phases Sort

As part of our study about the moon, we have been observing the moon and practicing moon phase identification. For the activity pictured above, students were given a moon phase finder, and laminated cards containing images of the phases of the moon, descriptions of phases, and the names of the phases. The handout included matching the names of phases and their descriptions and the template to create the moon phases flip book. Instead of stapling the flip book when done, we used a rubber band to secure one end.

For the lesson, I started with a demonstration/explanation. Students would sort and match the cards first and then call me over to verify the phases when they were done. They self checked the descriptions by using the matching worksheet. I posted an answer key in the front of the room where they verified their answers/made corrections. Next, they used the cards to help them identify the 29 phases of the flip book. When done, they self check the phases with my answer key in the front of the room. Afterwards, they cut and assembled the flip book. I had small plastic bags and rubber bands for them to take home their pieces if they did not finish during the class period.

Resources

  • I use the phrase “Wax on, Wane off” to practice identification. When the moon is waxing, the right side is getting brighter/larger, when it is waning, the left side is getting smaller/dimmer. (From where we are in the Northern Hemisphere)
    • Also: “Light-Left-Last-Quarter” to help differentiate between First and Third/Last Quarter Phases
  • Moon Phase Finder Template – glue onto paper plate, cut out center
  • Birthday Moons – this is a classic lesson that has I have used over the years. I made a Birthday Moon Phases worksheet (pdf) for my students to use based on the original lesson. We did this activity prior to the phases sort above.
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids (link)
    • At the bottom of the page, you can select the year and month to view the phases for the month/year you were born

For related lesson plans, please visit my Earth Science page.