Printer Friendly
Activity: Kinesthetic Model of the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas


  • Styrofoam “moon” ball on a pencil
  • Light bulb “sun”
  • Portable utility light
  • Materials to darken room
  • Picture of familiar geographic area (e.g., state or county) (optional)
  • Sticker (optional)



Your teacher will help lead you through this activity.



Activity Questions
  1. Explain the movement of the moon in relation to the earth over the course of:
    1. 24 hours
    2. a month
    3. a year.
  2. Explain the movement of the earth in relation to the sun over the course of:
    1. 24 hours
    2. a month
    3. a year.
  3. Draw the relative positions of the sun, the earth, and the moon during a:
    1. new moon
    2. first quarter moon (Fig. 6.4 A)
    3. full moon (Fig. 6.4 B)
    4. third quarter moon (Fig. 6.4 C)


Image caption

Fig. 6.4. Moon phases (A) First quarter moon, (B) Full moon, (C) Third quarter moon

Image copyright and source

Images courtesy of Jay Tanner, Wikimedia Commons. Click the link and you can see over 350 photographs of the near side of the moon by Jay Tanner.

  1. Compare your observations of the solar system model to the real world. What does the model represent accurately? What does the model not represent accurately?
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.