Moon Inquiry: Part 3 – Analyzing Our Moon Data

Junior (Age 9 – 12)

Curriculum Goal

STEM Skills and Connections: STEM Investigation and Communication Skills

  • Use a scientific research process and associated skills to conduct investigations
  • Communicate their findings, using science and technology vocabulary and formats that are appropriate for specific audiences and purposes

 Earth and Space Systems: Exploring and Understanding Concepts

  • Identify the types of bodies in space that emit light and those that reflect light
  • Describe various effects of the relative positions and motions of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun


  • This is part three of a Moon inquiry and should be delivered approximately one week after the Part 1.
  • Since Part 2, students have worked as a class to track features of the Sun and Moon every day and record that data on a chart. Students have also been completing illustrations of the moon in the sky on a daily basis for the past week, and should have approximately seven or eight days of images to examine (long enough for the moon to have visibly changed in appearance).
  • This lesson features a knowledge building talk in which students have the opportunity to synthesize their observations. Students will share theories about what causes the Moon to change location and appearance over time. They will also review the theories and questions they first posed in Part 1 and 2 of the inquiry to determine whether the information they have been gathering confirms any of their ideas or answers any of their questions.




  • As on previous days, project the Moon Phases Calendar website before students come into the classroom so that when they sit down at their desks they can immediately draw what the moon looks like in their Moon Observation Journals.
  • Start with a read-aloud of “A Big Mooncake for Little Star.”
    • Start at the 4:16 timestamp for a bit of context from the author about the story, or at 4:57 for the beginning of the read-aloud. The read-aloud finishes at the 11:22 mark.
    • Although “A Big Mooncake for Little Star” is not based on a fable, it reads like a myth. It has been selected to provide an entry-point for thinking about why the moon’s appearance changes in the night sky, while not giving the scientific answer to students before they have gone further in their inquiry. Another text can be substituted if desired.
  • After reading the book, tell the class that they will begin to examine the information about the Moon they have gathered to see what new understandings they can form.


  • Lead a knowledge-building circle for the class. If space permits, it is nice to have the students sitting in an actual circle for this conversation. Regardless of the seating arrangement, ensure all students have their Moon Observation Journals available to share, and that everyone can see the Moon/Sun tracking chart.
  • Prompt students to discuss and share what they are learning so far about the moon.
    • Tell students: Turn to your neighbour and talk about the pictures of the moon that you have been sketching over the past week. Have there been any changes? Why do you think this might be? Did your partner observe anything different about the moon than you did?
    • When the conversations begin to wind down, bring focus back to the full group and ask some partners to share their findings.
  • Draw the class’s attention to the Moon/Sun tracking chart. Ask students:
    • Does this chart look the way you expected it to look? Is there anything on here that surprises you, and if so, what?
    • Do we think there might be any connections between the tracking you have been doing every morning on your “Moon Observation Journal” and the information we are recording on this chart? What do you think those connections might be?
  • Finally, show students the list of theories and questions they came up with the previous week (the Theories Chart). Ask students the following:
  • Do we see any theories on this list that are supported by the evidence we have gathered so far?
  • Which ones do you see, and what is the evidence you are using to support it?
  • Have the observations we’ve made so far answered any of the questions we asked last week? If so, how?
  • Consider having your class share with a partner before the whole class shares together.


  • Tell students: Now that we have started to gather data, explore our early theories, and answer some of our initial questions, we can start to dig even deeper into the Moon and its properties/movement/appearance. What questions from last week have we not been able to answer yet? What new questions do we have?
  • Record the new list of questions/inquiries on the blank sheet of chart paper.
  • Leave students with something to think about before we continue the inquiry another day:
    • Think about how you might try to answer the questions we have listed on this chart paper.
    • What information do we need? How might we find it?
    • Should we make more observations of the moon? Should we use other resources?

Look Fors

  • Are students understanding the data on the chart?
  • Are students making connections between their observations and the data they have been collecting/the questions they asked the previous week?
  • Are students embracing the idea that “wrong” answers are a part of the research process?
  • Are students developing new theories/questions based on what they are seeing and learning?

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