Children ages 8 to 11 work in teams to apply their knowledge from the Moon Tune and/or from their reading about the Moon, its environment, and the LRO mission to match responses to Moon questions. With the correct responses, they build a picture of the Moon in this 20-minute activity.
What's the Point?
- Our Moon has an extreme environment that we will need to understand before humans can return to live and work there as a next step in exploring other planets.
- Comets striking the Moon may have delivered ice that may be preserved in cold, permanently dark areas such as deep craters and at the Moon's poles.
- The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is orbiting the Moon and gathering information about the lunar environment, including temperatures, radiation, topography, and the possible presence of water ice.
For each group of two to four children:
- 1 pair of scissors
- Tape or glue
- 1 set of game sheets printed on card stock
- 1 Moon Pie Questions Game Board
- 1 Moon Pie Answer Board copied (or glued) double-sided with the Moon Pie Moon Surface
- 1 Moon Pie Moon Outline to be attached to the wall
For the facilitator
- On cardstock make one copy of the Moon Pie Questions Game Board, the Moon Pie Answer Board, and the blank Moon Pie Outline for each team. Note that the Answer Board should be double-sided, with answers on one side and an image of the Moon on the other.
- For each team, place the Moon Pie Outline on the wall, within reach, allowing several feet of space between each team's playing area (optional).
If you have not done so, invite the children to share what they have learned about the Moon's history and about the LRO mission from the Moon Tune and the books they read about the Moon.
- How are craters on the Moon formed? Craters are formed when asteroids or comets strike the Moon. Most of the larger craters formed early in the Moon's history, until about 3.9 billion years ago; however, the Moon and other planetary bodies still are hit by asteroids and comets occasionally.
- What important resource may comets deliver to the Moon when they strike? Ice; comets contain water ice.
- Why would ice from comets not melt? If it is in the deep craters or in the polar regions, where the Sun's heat does not reach it, it could stay frozen.
- How did the Moon's dark patches form? Some craters were later filled by lava that cooled to form smooth, dark areas on the Moon.These dark areas are called "seas" — or mare — but they never had water in them!
- What is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter? What is it studying and from where? The LRO is a NASA spacecraft in orbit around the Moon.
- What kinds of information will the LRO collect for scientists? Measurements of temperature and radiation from the Sun, maps of resources like types of rocks and water ice, maps and pictures of the lunar surface and its features.
- Why does NASA want to collect more information about the Moon? NASA plans to send humans to the Moon for extended stays at lunar outposts around 2020. LRO will provide important information about where certain resources — like water ice and elements in rocks — exist, where the surface is safe for landing and building, and where scientific questions about the Moon's formation and changes can best be studied. All these activities will prepare future astronauts — the children in your program! — to explore Mars and beyond.
- How old will the children be when NASA is building the first planned base on the Moon? Do any of the children want to be part of the next team of lunar explorers? What do they want to do?
- Divide the children into teams of two to four and explain that they are in a competition to form a complete picture of the Moon. The team that answers the questions correctly and creates a full Moon image first wins!
Provide each team with copies of the Moon Pie Questions Game Board and the Moon Pie Answer Board. Have them cut out the circle of answers and cut carefully along the lines so that they have several "slices" of "Moon Pie." On the front of each slice is a possible answer to a question; on the back of each slice is an image of the Moon.
- Challenge the teams to answer the questions in turn from the Moon Pie Question Board. The child who goes first matches question #1 to the appropriate answer from the Moon Pie Answer Board. Encourage the children to think of the answer with their teams before they look at the answer board.
Once the correct answer is identified, the child takes the slice from the answer board, turns it over to reveal the Moon surface, and tapes it to the blank Moon circle in the position indicated by the number of the question. The next child answers question #2, and the process is repeated until the complete Moon is formed from the slices. Have the children look closely at their Moon pies as they are building them; do the features fit together correctly? Are all the puzzle pieces in place?
- The first team to complete their Moon wins! Be sure to verify the correct order of their Moon slices before declaring the winner.
Looking for a bigger challenge?
Provide each team with the image of the Moon but not with the answers on the opposite side. Have the children determine the answers based on their knowledge from the reading activity or song.
Invite the children to explore the Moon with additional activities from this module.