"Rotate and Revolve"

Amy Gray

Dana Pate

September 11, 2000

  1. This lesson is a study of the structure of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, a detailed look at the rotations and revolutions of the Earth and the Moon. The goal of this lesson is to have the children differentiate between revolution and rotation and the time and seasonal effects.
  2. Grade level: Third
  3. #3. Communicate scientific content effectively. Examples: speak and write about it,

    illustrate it.

    #4. Construct mental, verbal, or physical representations of ideas, objects, and


    # 8. Recognize that the Earth is one of several planets that orbits the sun and that the

    moon orbits the Earth.

    #11. Recognize that the appearance of the moon changes.

    #12. Understand that the movement of the Earth determines the seasons and the

    length of day and night.

  4. The Earth revolves around the Sun and the moon revolves around the earth. The revolution of the Earth around the Sun produces the span of time called a year. Earth travels in an almost circular counterclockwise orbit that keeps it about 93 million miles away from the Sun. However, the seasons are not caused by its distance from the Sun but by its tilt of the axis. The axis is an imaginary line that runs from the North to its South Pole. Earth’s axis is tilted about 23 ˝ degrees from its orbital path. The time of day is produced by the rotation of the Earth. As the Earth spins, the result is the sight of the Sun and the Moon at different times. This is thought as sunrise and sunset but it does not actually rise and fall. It is because of the rotation of the Earth that day and night time exists in a cycle. Day being on one side of the Earth and night being on the other side of the Earth. The Moon revolves around the Earth which goes in a monthly cycle resulting in the lunar cycle and the different phases of the moon. The Moon revolves around the Earth which is contrary to what the Sun does. The Sun remains stationary and the Earth revolves around it. The Sun is a star and the Moon is a satellite of Earth.
  5. We will be talking about two very different words that sound similar. The words are revolution and the rotation. Revolution means travels around which walking around your desk. Rotation means to spin like you would spin a basketball on your finger. The Earth revolves around the sun on its axis which makes the summer and the winter. (p. 38 standard 12) The axis is an imaginary line through the center of the Earth from the North to the South pole. The revolution of the Earth makes our weather hot and cold. This takes one year which is 365 days. The other planets that revolve around the sun take more or less time to travel around the Sun. The closer the planet is to the Sun the less amount of time it takes to travel around the Sun. The farther away the planet is from the Sun the longer it takes for it to complete its revolution. For example it takes 88 Earth days for Mercury to revolve around the Sun because Mercury is the second smallest and closest planet to the sun. (p.38 standard 8) The Earth rotates on it’s axis which gives us night and day. (p.38 standard 12) One day is twenty four hours. When it is daytime in the United States it is nighttime

on the other side of the Earth. For example in Australia it is nighttime when you are out playing at recess. The path that the Earth follows is called an orbit. An orbit is a path around one object around another. An example of this would be the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun. The Sun is a star that does not move. It is the center of our solar system. The moon is called a satellite which means it orbits around the Earth. A satellite is an object that is in orbit around another object.

  1. Materials: flashlight, globe, winter and summer marker, KWL worksheet, assessment


6. A. Introduce the idea of rotate and revolve using the knowledge above. Model the rotation of the Earth by shining a flashlight on a slowly turning globe. This can be emphasized by turning the classroom lights down. By observing the effect of light on the globe students will understand the concept of sunrise and sunset.

  1. Hand out KWL worksheet and allow the children to brainstorm about the Earth, Sun , and Moon. Give the students about ten minutes to complete. This will be used at the end of the lesson to initiate discussion. They will have an opportunity to add to what they have learned.
  2. Demonstrate the directions of the activity. Pull four children from the class and the teacher should be the Sun. Explain that each child represents a planet and the "Sun" calls out one of the four keywords: rotate, revolve, time, and season. Teacher should only call out "rotate" for the first time, "revolve" for the second time and then can call out "rotate and revolve" if the children have grasped the concept. The "Sun" then calls "stop" and the "planets" must stop moving. The "Sun" then calls out "time" or " season". The children then answer by their position in the revolution or how are facing towards the "Sun".
  3. Divide children in groups containing at least four people. Each person must take a turn being the "Sun" and the "planets". Teacher will then walk around and assess the children’s understanding of rotation and revolution. Allow at east twenty minutes for the children to experiment with this activity.
  1. Bring the children to the circle on the floor and redistribute KWL worksheets. Discuss what they knew, what they wanted to know, and what they learned. Give them opportunity to add to their worksheet of what they have learned. Discuss with the children again rotation and revolution by having them explain it in their own words. If time allows hand out "The Planets are Moving!" worksheet. Have them complete and then discuss.
  2. Useful Internet Resources: http://proteacher.com This Internet cite is full of useful ideas and lessons for each particular grade level.
  3. Science Process Skills

1. Observing (p. 36 standard 2)

  1. Communications (p.36 standard 3)

3. Inferring/Predicting (p. 36 standard 1)

Critique of "Rotate and Revolve" Science Lesson

When I first planned this lesson I had it all mapped out in my head and of course thought it would go smoothly. I felt it was a pretty cut and dry lesson. That was my first mistake to assume that this lesson would execute perfectly. As I began to actually write it out and think about how is would really work in my classroom I realized there was so much more to consider. I originally thought that I would be able to complete this lesson in one forty-five minute span of time. However, after the first day of the lesson I realized that for thorough understanding of the topic then I needed to split it into two science periods.

The first day of this lesson did not go the way I expected it would. I felt that I was very prepared. I had my materials ready and I knew how I wanted to present everything. What I did not consider is the children’s ability to work together in groups and classroom management. I think that I automatically thought that the children would just do the activity with no problems. This being my first science lesson and really my first experience teaching this group of children it never crossed my mind that they would not be cooperative. That is a mistake I will definitely not make again. That really taught me to take be sure to consider everything I can think of when planning a lesson. I should be prepared and alternate extensions of the lesson if the original does not work out.

I honestly think that I learned the most from teaching this lesson. It taught me to be conscious of how the students work together and what is the best way for me to give directions to them and implement the activity in the classroom. For example, I wrote my lesson plan and had the children in small groups. After I explained the activity and demonstrated it, I split them up into groups and allowed them to do the activity on their own. From the very start they were off task. They began to argue and bicker about who got to be the sun and what planet they were. It became so noisy I am sure that the entire hall could hear them. I had to make them all go back to their seats because they were learning nothing from the activity. My teacher was appalled at their behavior but I felt that I could have done more to prevent their "wildness". My teacher and I sat down and discussed the children’s behavior and what I could do so that would not happen again. After that lesson I knew I needed to modify the lesson for the next day.

That night when I went home to redesign this lesson I felt that I needed to revamp the whole lesson. I rethought the entire lesson and decided that we would do the activity as a whole group and give everyone an opportunity to participate. That worked out great. I chose who was to be the sun and the planets and allowed each student to participate. The great things about this was I felt that the students were participating and were understanding about rotation and revolution of the earth. They worked together during this activity with only a few problems. Nothing like it was the day before. I was really proud of myself because I took a lesson that was a disaster the first day and made it in to a workable, educational lesson.

One thing that I really liked about this lesson was that I was able to assess their knowledge and understanding during the activity. If they were unable to tell me if it was day or night, spring, what season they were in than I knew that they did not understand anything that we had been talking about. Happily, I found that most of them knew that when the earth rotated it was day/night and when it revolved it changed the seasons.

Another part of my lesson that I would have changed is the way I presented and taught the concepts before the activity. I do not think that I spent enough time on talking about and discussing the concepts involved in this activity. I had a globe and a flashlight to demonstrate the earth rotating which makes day and night. I think I could have utilized those materials a little bit more. I think that I was so preoccupied with the execution of the activity that I did not take enough time on the actual material. I should have made a quick assessment of their understanding before we went into the activity. I know that I rushed too quickly in to the activity. This might also account for the craziness of the children.

There is so much that I learned from teaching this activity. It is a great hands-on activity that really helps children to understand the rotation and revolution of the earth. I plan to teach this lesson again and I know that there is so much that I will do differently. I now know all the different things to consider in not just this lesson but the many others that I will plan. I would have never learned half as much if I just typed up this lesson and did not actually teach it. Nothing compares with the knowledge that you gain when you are in the classroom actually teaching a lesson.