First Form River Adventure on Treasure Island!
Back in October, we went to treasure island to search for freshwater insects and animals that live in the Bantam River with Wendy from The Sharon Audobon Center. We found, after an afternoon of gathering, that The Bantam River is very healthy!
Click on the link below to discover more about rivers!
Fall Term 2011- Fresh Water, Water Conservation, the Water Cycle, Ponds, and Rivers.
Click on the link below to see an overview of your child's science curriculum for the year:
Ocean Animal Research
Great White Shark
Websites to Visit for Your Research
Solar System Websites
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Websites to Visit for Your Research
Solar System Websites
Neptune and Uranus:
Venus and Mercury:
Image Gallery of Planets:
Moon Journal Rubric
I Form Winter 2012
100 Points: 10-15 entries
40 points: You have included at least 10 entries with a written description and a picture (drawn by you or taken with a camera). ______
40 Points: Your writing entry:______
Does your writing represent 5 minutes of writing and show a lot of description of what you observe each night?
10 points: Your pictures:________
Are the pictures original and a good representation of what you saw in the sky and of the moon?
Does each journal entry have the day, date, and time? Did I decorate the outside of my journal using many pictures that represent what my journal is about?
The illustration may look a little complex at first, but it's easy to explain.
Sunlight is shown coming in from the right. The earth, of course, is at the center of the diagram. The moon is shown at 8 key stages during its revolution around the earth. The moon phase name is shown alongside the image. The dotted line from the earth to the moon represents your line of sight when looking at the moon. To help you visualize how the moon would appear at that point in the cycle, you can look at the larger moon image. This means for the waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent phases you have to mentally turn yourself upside down. When you do this, you'll "see" that the illuminated portion is on your left, just as you see in the large image.
One important thing to notice is that exactly one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun. Of course that is perfectly logical, but you need to visualize it in order to understand the phases. At certain times we see both the sunlit portion and the shadowed portion -- and that creates the various moon phase shapes we are all familiar with. Also note that the shadowed part of the moon is invisible to the naked eye; in the diagram above, it is only shown for clarification purposes.
So the basic explanation is that the lunar phases are created by changing angles (relative positions) of the earth, the moon and the sun, as the moon orbits the earth.
If you'd like to examine the phases of the moon more closely, via computer software, you may be interested in this moon phases calendar software.
Moon Phases Simplified
It's probably easiest to understand the moon cycle in this order: new moon and full moon, first quarter and third quarter, and the phases in between.
As shown in the above diagram, the new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun. The three objects are in approximate alignment (why "approximate" is explained below). The entire illuminated portion of the moon is on the back side of the moon, the half that we cannot see.
At a full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are in approximate alignment, just as the new moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth, so the entire sunlit part of the moon is facing us. The shadowed portion is entirely hidden from view.
The first quarter and third quarter moons (both often called a "half moon"), happen when the moon is at a 90 degree angle with respect to the earth and sun. So we are seeing exactly half of the moon illuminated and half in shadow.
Once you understand those four key moon phases, the phases between should be fairly easy to visualize, as the illuminated portion gradually transitions between them.
An easy way to remember and understand those "between" lunar phase names is by breaking out and defining 4 words: crescent, gibbous, waxing, and waning. The word crescent refers to the phases where the moon is less that half illuminated. The word gibbous refers to phases where the moon is more than half illuminated. Waxing essentially means "growing" or expanding in illumination, and waning means "shrinking" or decreasing in illumination.
Thus you can simply combine the two words to create the phase name, as follows:
After the new moon, the sunlit portion is increasing, but less than half, so it is waxing crescent. After the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, but now it is more than half, so it is waxing gibbous. After the full moon (maximum illumination), the light continually decreases. So the waning gibbous phase occurs next. Following the third quarter is the waning crescent, which wanes until the light is completely gone -- a new moon.
The Moon's Orbit
You may have personally observed that the moon goes through a complete moon phases cycle in about one month. That's true, but it's not exactly one month. The synodic period or lunation is exactly 29.5305882 days. It's the time required for the moon to move to the same position (same phase) as seen by an observer on earth. If you were to view the moon cycling the earth from outside our solar system (the viewpoint of the stars), the time required is 27.3217 days, roughly two days less. This figure is called the sidereal period or orbital period. Why is the synodic period different from the sidereal period? The short answer is because on earth, we are viewing the moon from a moving platform: during the moon cycle, the earth has moved approximately one month along its year-long orbit around the sun, altering our angle of view with respect to the moon, and thus altering the phase. The earth's orbital direction is such that it lengthens the period for earthbound observers.
Although the synodic and sidereal periods are exact numbers, the moon phase can't be precisely calculated by simple division of days because the moon's motion (orbital speed and position) is affected and perturbed by various forces of different strengths. Hence, complex equations are used to determine the exact position and phase of the moon at any given point in time.
Also, looking at the diagram (and imagining it to scale), you may have wondered why, at a new moon, the moon doesn't block the sun, and at a full moon, why the earth doesn't block sunlight from reaching the moon. The reason is because the moon's orbit about the earth is about 5 degrees off from the earth-sun orbital plane.
However, at special times during the year, the earth, moon, and sun do in fact "line up". When the moon blocks the sun or a part of it, it's called a solar eclipse, and it can only happen during the new moon phase. When the earth casts a shadow on the moon, it's called a lunar eclipse, and can only happen during the full moon phase. Roughly 4 to 7 eclipses happen in any given year, but most of them minor or "partial" eclipses. Major lunar or solar eclipses are relatively uncommon.
Information and photo taken from:
Phase, Moon. "Moon Phases / Lunar Phases Explained." Moon Information Resource And Guide. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases.phtml>.
Moon Journal Project
Click the link below to observe the moon phases each day!
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Online Resources for Animal Research - I Form Fall 2011
Painted Terrapin Turtle - Emily
Fire Salamander - Erik
Great Blue Heron- Mary
River Otter - Eva
Water Snakes- John and Hunter
Snapping Turtle- Izzie
Treasure Island Outdoor Learning Classroom
Animal River Research
"Meaty Research Questions"
1. What are some fun facts about my animal?
2. What does the ________________ eat and how do they get their food or prey? (Hunt or gather?)
3. What are some of my animal's behaviors?
4. What is the habitat of the _______________?
-nesting grounds -land or water -what do their homes look like? -whaere are they located throughout the world -how do they make their homes
5. How does the _____________ mate and have babies?
How do they care for babies when they are born?
What is the gestation period (time before eggs hatch or baby is born)?
How are they babies fed and what are they feed?
How do babies travel when born?
6. What are some similarities and differences between the different species of animals?
ex: the giant river turtle vs. river turtles in Connecticut
crocodiles vs. alligators
*The question does not apply to all animals
7. What is the physical description of the __________________?