Mar 11

The Big Moon Ball Project & NASA Solar System Exploration Page Honour for Me

Children from St Cronans Stargazers draw moon phases

The Big Moon Ball Project – A work in progress

The Moon? The Moon? How on Earth do you explain the Moon to small children?  In many other talks I had done so in graphic from and with images but wanted to try something different. I figured I would have a go at an interactive workshop in a field, as one would of course.

Made me a Moon ball and put it on a stand, borrowed a super two million candle torch, put it on a stand.  Then I invited my new astronomy group St Cronans Stargazers to join me at our usual place.  As it was midterm a small but smiling group turned up, perfect for a first run!  We pretended the torch was the sun and the children were the Earth and I became the Moon.  For the first orbit of the Earth I spoke about the phase they see from the Earth as they looked at me (the Moon Ball) moving from New to First Quarter, then Full, then Last Quarter, then back to New.

The children got the idea very quickly as the sun (torch) illuminated the phases while they (the Earth) turned in unison in the field at the end of my road. The Big Moon Ball beamed the moons phases into their eyes.  Clip boards and paper were provided for the second orbit of the Earth .The children sketched the four main Moon phases as they happened and wrote down the names. The parents were very helpful, standing at the points of the phases and also helping the children see their clipboards and their drawings in the dark.

Of course this workshop would be so much more powerful if the Moon was in the sky at the same time. I am continuing to develop the activity; it suits the Irish cloudy sky syndrome and is also an indoor workshop.  Every child wanted to hold the Moon Ball and help put it in the car afterwards. A whole bunch of fun was over in a blink the children had lovely practical drawings for their folders, and were on their way to understanding the Moons movements.

The Big Moon Ball Project was welcomed by Engineers Ireland as part of Engineers Week Ireland
Huge thanks to my husband Bernard for help with the sun and for taking the photographs.
The Moon Ball is getting an upgrade, the far side is being painted in now and the near side is developing more details, craters, rays and mountains.  More images on my website here

Cool News /  Hot Stuff

NASA Solar System Exploration Page I am really delighted and honoured to have  my Solar Dynamics Observatory  inspired painting on the site for the month of March ,check it out. !!

Deirdre Kelleghan


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