What causes eclipses?

In this three-part science investigation, students will explore concepts related to eclipses. They will generate questions about the occurrence and causes of eclipses. They will consider the relative positions of Moon, Earth and Sun and the effect that this has on the appearance of the Moon or the Sun. Students will undertake research activities to explore possible answers to their questions. Students will then simulate the occurrence of eclipses as viewed from Earth, by physically modelling with balls and a light source, the positions and movements of Earth, Sun and Moon. Finally, students will evaluate their models and suggest improvements.

Carefully scaffolded, this activity will motivate students, and engage them in critical and creative thinking. Working collaboratively with their peers, students will apply their understandings of the relative position and movement of the Sun, Moon and Earth during ecliptic events. Students will also be engaged in evaluating the models and reflecting on their collaboration skills.


Teacher notes

Student notes