Oreo Moon Phases

Tiffany May

The Cobble Hill High School of American Studies, Brooklyn


Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2012




Subject: Earth Science

Grade Level: Tenth grade

Unit: Astronomy

Duration: 1 period (45 minutes)

Aim/Teaching Point:  Great scientists create a model of the 8 moon phases to analyze which positions of the Moon create natural phenomena.

Objectives: Students will be able to-

·         Work in pairs to create Oreo cookie models of each moon phase in its correct order in relation to the Sun's rays.

·         Explain using evidence from their model how and why we see moon phases on Earth.

·         Discuss how, when, and why specific phenomena occurs on Earth because of the moon.

Vocabulary: Waxing, waning, the moon phases (full, new, first quarter, third/last quarter, waxing gibbous, waning gibbous, waxing crescent, waning crescent), lunar/solar eclipse,  and tides.

Materials: Oreo Moon Phase worksheet, 7 Oreo cookies, 1 plastic for/knife for each student, one paper towel, Helper Handout

Procedure:  The class with begin with the Do Now question:  “How does the moon's appearance change during the month?”  Students will be encouraged to share out their Do Now answers. The teacher could also take the time here to review the appearance of each of the 8 moon phases (introduced prior to this activity). The teacher will then introduce the activity, briefly having the students read over the procedure on the worksheet.  Students will pair up with one another, and one will obtain the necessary materials. They will need to carefully twist apart each Oreo, and then lay them on the paper towel. Each will decide who will create the waxing and waning phases. They should place the diagrams together with the opposite side of the paper facing up. The circle in the center represents the Earth. The 8 surrounding circles represent the phases of the Moon.  They the draw in arrows on the RIGHT side of the entire diagram to represent the Sun’s light. First they should draw in the phases on the worksheet, labeling each phase. Then they should begin creating their moon phases with the Oreos, sculpting the white cream to resemble the lit portion of each specific moon phase. For struggling students, the Helper Handout will be available for hints and visual help.


Once the pairs have completed their phases, they can get the teacher's approval that the phases are created/placed correctly, then eat their Oreo Moons! Then they can move onto the analysis section where they choose 4 out the 6 questions. After this, they should delve into the summary questions, where they should answer with at least 5 sentences to each prompt. For those who work at a more advanced pace, they can complete the extra credit extension.

Summary: The teacher will have students share out their responses to question 8, “Explain why we see different phases of the moon on Earth,” checking for understanding. If time permits, the teacher will have students share about what they further learned during the activity, describing what they enjoyed or found difficult about it. This can be done using the 'Fist of Five', where on a scale of 0 (not good) to 5 (awesome!) they reveal how they felt about today's activity.



National Science Standards:

E.D.3a: Changes in Earth and sky

M.D.1.c: Structure of the Earth System

M.U.2- Evidence, models, and explanation

New York City Standards:

S4a: Demonstrates an understanding of big ideas and unifying concepts.

S5: Works individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.

S7: Communicates in a form suited to the purpose and the audience.

New York State Standards:

Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design, Key idea 1- The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design, Key idea 3- The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into phenomena.

Standard 6: Interconnectedness, Common Themes, Key Idea 1-  Through systems thinking, people can recognize the commonalities that exist among all systems and how parts of a system interrelate and combine to perform specific functions.