Reflection: Rigor Lunar Lollipops - Section 3: Lab (Student Activity)


In my experience, the two hardest concepts to teach are seasons and lunar phases. Both are often misunderstood by children and adults. When I review this concept months later I often hear from my students that lunar phases are caused by Earth's shadows, even after we went through all the trouble to model the phases of the Moon and have the students demonstrate the lunar phases in this activity. Old misconceptions are difficult to correct.

My point is that you shouldn't feel discouraged when the students seem to understand the concept, are able to demonstrate it to you, when they then fall back on a old misconception they are holding onto deeply. Misconceptions are hard things to break. If a child learns a scientific concept incorrectly at a young age and never bothers to questions that misconception, research has shown that the student will pile on the new information but frame it around their original misconception.

In the past, I provided photographic diagrams of the lunar phases to help them model the correct phases with the lunar lollipops. I found that the student copied down from the pictures and never used the lunar lollipops. My students were trying to give me exactly what I wanted, which was a correct lab sheet. I've changed my tactics and now provide as little support as possible during the lab, only helping if they are completely lost and about to give up entirely.

It's important for the students to struggle through this lesson. Allow them to question what they are observing. When I work with students I allow them to feel lost and frustrated. I make sure that I am there to point them on the correct path, never letting them stray back to their misconceptions. Productive struggle is integral to overcome misconceptions.

  Lunar phases are difficult concepts to master
  Rigor: Lunar phases are difficult concepts to master
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Lunar Lollipops

Unit 10: Earth, Moon, and Sun
Lesson 3 of 3

Objective: Students will be able to recreate the phases of the Moon using a sphere on a stick.

Big Idea: Lunar Phases are a difficult subject for students to grasp. Ease their trouble by having them recreate the phases of the Moon with Lunar Lollipops.

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lunar lollipops
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