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Solar Eclipse Lesson Plan

Instructor: Joanne Abramson

Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.

This lesson plan will help you introduce your secondary students to the solar eclipse. With it, students will view and discuss a short video lesson about eclipses before creating a model of this phenomenon.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what a solar eclipse is
  • state the difference between a total solar eclipse and partial lunar eclipse
  • describe how the Sun, Moon, and Earth must be aligned in order for a solar eclipse to occur

Length

1-1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.3

Follow precisely a complex multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Materials

  • Images of solar eclipses
  • Satellite images of solar eclipses showing the shadows of moons on Earth, Saturn, and Jupiter
  • Images from the Mars rover, Curiosity, showing a solar eclipse on Mars
  • Image depicting both the orbital plane of the moon around the Earth and the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun
  • Large balls (about 36 inches in diameter), enough for each group to have one
  • Medium balls (about 12 inches in diameter), enough for each group to have one
  • Small balls (about 8 inches in diameter), enough for each group to have one
  • Flashlights (one per group)
  • Dark-colored butcher paper or construction paper

Instructions

  • Begin the lesson by showing students images of solar eclipses.
    • Do you know what's happening in these pictures?
    • Do you know how eclipses are created?
  • Now show satellite images of solar eclipses on Earth, Saturn, and Jupiter. Explain that in today's lesson they will be learning more about solar eclipses.
  • Start the video What is a Solar Eclipse? - Definition & Overview and pause the video at 0:51. Ask students the following question:
    • What is a solar eclipse?
  • Display the images from the Curiosity rover that show a solar eclipse on Mars. Ask the following questions:
    • How are these images similar to solar eclipses that we see on Earth?
    • How are they different?
    • Do you think a solar eclipse on Mars will ever look more like the ones we see on Earth? Why or why not?
  • Return the video, this time pausing at 1:39. Ask students the following discussion questions:
    • What is the umbra of the moon?
    • How long do solar eclipses last?
  • Show an image depicting the orbital plane of the Moon around the Earth and the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun. Ask the following question:
    • What two events must take place in order for a solar eclipse to occur?
  • Continue the video, this time watching it to the end. Ask the following questions:
    • What is the difference between a total solar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse?
    • Why was the total solar eclipse of 1919 so important?
  • To check for understanding, project and complete the lesson quiz.

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