MySci Unit 23 – Our Place in the Universe (PREVIEW)


Earth and Space Systems:
Earth, Orbits, Solar System, Patterns

What is in our solar system? How do they interact with each other? By collecting and analyzing data of observable events in the sky , students construct an understanding of our solar system.

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MySci Unit 23 Preview

Suggested Grade Level: 5th Grade

32 pages
2017-2018 edition

Developed with primary support from the Monsanto Fund.

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  • Kandace Ortiz

    The students really liked Section 2 Lesson 3…moon phase strips.

    What went well:

    The students had a moon phase calendar they used to help guide them in filling out the strip.
    The students thought it was neat that they were able to predict what tonight’s moon was going to look like!

    Improvements for next time:
    The sharpie-pencils became dull quickly. Next time I will ask for more pencils so we have extra 🙂

    They enjoyed the lesson so much, they asked if they could keep the strips to take home!
    Cool lesson!

    Kandace Ortiz
    5th Grade Teacher

    • skyler wiseman

      The moon strips are for the students to take home. Im so glad they liked the lesson. Thanks, Kandace!

  • Sara Berghoff

    For the lesson on birthday/sunlight hours I used a sunrise/sunset chart for Chicago. It showed the sunrise/sunset times for the entire year. Students figured the hours of daylight for thier birthday and then we compared by seasons.

    This is the PDF file link:

    The website in

    • skyler wiseman

      DId the students have trouble with the military time conversion? Sky

      • Sara Berghoff

        No, we discussed it before we started out math work.

  • Sara Berghoff

    For the moon phase lesson I used a great song/rap about the phases on a site-
    It requires a subscription but there is also a free 14 day trial you can sign up for. There are lots of great science topics on this site. It may be worth the $96 a year or $12 a month subscription fee.

    • skyler wiseman

      Sara, I ll check out the website. I would LOVE to add songs and raps to all the units. Great idea. Sky

  • Kaytlin Kirchner

    Hi! For the sunrise/sunset for birthdays, we used the Farmer’s Almanac website. It was NOT military time and really easy for kids to access.

  • ag

    The video links for the sextant didn’t discuss the sextant, unless I missed something they were about constellations.

    • skyler wiseman

      I will check on it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    • Kaytlin Kirchner

      I had this same issue.

  • Kaytlin Kirchner

    With the phases of the moon strips, I found it very helpful for the students to record the dates of and label Full Moon, 1st Quarter, New Moon, and 3rd/Last Quarter for their assigned month before using the oil pencils on the strips. We used this website to find the dates of the phases:

    After students recorded the dates, they cut up index cards and labeled the correct dates with these phases. This way, the students could first create the visuals of these core phases and then show the changes in between. It was easier for them to visualize the phases when they could see where they needed to transition.

    • skyler wiseman

      Very cool.

  • Kaytlin Kirchner

    Another thought on moon phases…

    My building is ordering one of these for our grade level as a visual. We encourage students to observe the phases of the moon on their own at home using the calendars in the kit, but some do not have the opportunity or support. I plan to set the light each day to reflect the night’s phase!

  • Kaytlin Kirchner

    I added this activity after the sundials… It really interested students, incorporated measurement, and involved making predictions. I created the Shadow Sundials page with a rough map of the blacktop portion of my school (where students could use chalk to outline their shadows). Students had to use the compasses in the kit to find the cardinal directions and label on the map. Then in groups of three, students tracked their shadows on the Shadow Data Chart (manipulated from a free worksheet Teachers Pay Teachers). One student was the gnomon, one student traced the gnomon’s shadow and measured the length, and the other student served as the recorder for the group. The groups came out 4 times during the day, standing in the same spot (outlined with chalk) each time. On the fifth row, students predicted how their shadows would change in the evening.

    • skyler wiseman

      Kaytlin, This chart is awesome! I would imagine other teachers would be interested in using it also. Thanks, Sky

  • skyler wiseman

    From Paris Bouchard in Hazelwood:
    During teaching the moon phases, I first gave a formative assessment on the orbiting of the moon and does the moon create its own light. We reviewed what a cycle is. Then, I had students put on a “moon phase board” which allows students to see how the moon orbits the earth and as it does, it changes the phase of the moon. I also give the students a flashlight, two plastic cups, and to ping pong balls. The students left one ball and cup in the center of the desk acting as earth, one cup orbits the center cup acting like the moon, and the flashlight was kept at a distance. The students recorded how the moon phases change. We listened to a moon phase song each day as while we learned about the moon phases. Students drew out the phases of the moon and we read a book on moon phases.