The Moon? The Moon? How on Earth do you explain the Moon to small children? In many other talks I had done so in graphic from and with images but wanted to try something different. I figured I would have a go at an interactive workshop in a field, as one would of course .
Made me a Moon ball and put it on a stand , borrowed a super two million candle torch , put it on a stand. Then I invited my new astronomy group St Cronans Stargazers to join me at our usual place. As it was midterm a small but smiling group turned up, perfect for a first run! We pretended the torch was the sun and the children were the Earth and I became the Moon. For the first orbit of the Earth I spoke about the phase they see from the Earth as they looked at me ( the Moon Ball) moving from New to First Quarter, then Full, then Last Quarter , then back to New.
The children got the idea very quickly as the sun ( torch) illuminated the phases while they ( the Earth ) turned in unison in the field at the end of my road. The Big Moon Ball beamed the moons phases into their eyes. Clip boards and paper were provided for the second orbit of the Earth .The children sketched the four main Moon phases as they happened and wrote down the names . The parents were very helpful ,standing at the points of the phases and also helping the children see their clipboards and their drawings in the dark.
Of course this workshop would be so much more powerful if the Moon was in the sky at the same time . I am continuing to develop the activity , it suits the Irish cloudy sky syndrome and is also an indoor workshop. Every child wanted to hold the Moon Ball and help put it in the car afterwards . A whole bunch of fun was over in a blink , the children had lovely practical drawings for their folders , and were on their way to understanding the Moons movments.
The Big Moon Ball Project was welcomed by Engineers Ireland as part of Engineers Week 2011
Huge thanks to my husband Bernard for help with the sun and for taking the photographs.
The Moon Ball is getting an upgrade , the far side is being painted in now and the near sids is developing more details , craters, rays and mountains.
My painting is 8 inches by 8 inches
acrylic and pastel on canvas. It was inspired by the images of the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
You can see the image more clearly on the link below here and find many interesting solar system connections too.
Solar System Exploration