The nature and cause of the phases of the moon are widely misunderstood. Perhaps the problem is a general decline in scientific literacy, or maybe it is the loss of direct and regular observation of the moon in society generally. Many people do not see the moon as a half-illuminated sphere. Adults are often surprised to realize that the moon can be seen during the day, even though young children, who do not have preconceptions, often spot the moon in a bright sky. The procession of the phases of the moon throughout the month is at best a mystery and at worst a boring set of facts to be memorized for an exam. To provide a first-hand, three-dimensional experience of the phases of the moon, I developed a three-dimensional, room-size model and accompanying questions to supplement a textbook, available simulations, and my lectures.

1.
Regina M.
Barrier
, “
Astronomical misconceptions
,”
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,
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N. F.
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,”
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2.
Heather Patti Jones
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Researching effective methods for teaching the phases of the moon
,”
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), https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/etd/3865.
3.
Several recent astronomy texts, e.g.,
Laura
Kay
,
Stacy
Palen
, and
George
Blumenthal
,
21st Century Astronomy
(
W. W. Norton & Co
.,
New York
), p.
41
.
4.
astro.unl.edu. See the website to download versions of these classic animations that no longer require Flash Player.
5.
Jennifer Bond
Hickman
, “
Moon dance: A ‘handy’ way to teach moon phases
,”
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31
,
178
(
1993
).
6.
If the model is used in the southern hemisphere, the “Earth” should rotate clockwise, the rotation direction of Earth about the South Pole. In addition, the moon order should be clockwise around the room, the horizon labels on the meterstick should be reversed, and the observer is facing due north.
7.
Readers can access sample documents at TPT Online at https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0064950, under the Supplemental tab.

Supplementary Material

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