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Penny Moon

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This is an activity about the rotation of the Moon. Learners use a penny and a quarter to model that the Moon does indeed spin on its axis as it orbits the Earth.

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Related Programming Resources

Originating Source Lunar and Planetary Instute
NASAWavelength.org
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Rating 
Participants Enjoyed the Activity 
Participants Learned from This Activity 
Activity Instructions Were Clear and Easy to Follow 
Would Recommend 
03/05/2018

Even Adults Learned Something New

I used this activity along with two others (Moon Mythbusters and Loony Lunar Phases) for a family library event for the Super Blue Blood Moon in January of 2018. The participants ranged in age from preschool through middle school and were accompanied by their caregivers.

For penny moon, I gave each child a quarter and a penny, but I did ask them to return them after the activity! Rather than have the kids work in pairs, I had each child work with his or her adult caregiver. I did this to make sure the adults were engaged and they all were happy to participate. Some adults had more than one child with them, and I was able to help them as needed.

I went through the questions provided in step one nearly verbatim. When we went to step two and the kids had to move the penny around the quarter keeping Lincoln’s nose facing the penny, I don’t think they quite understood what was happening at first. I had them repeat the motion, but asked them to stop when the penny was halfway. This clearly showed that the penny was upside down and emphasized that the penny was spinning as it rotated the quarter. I showed them a video to further demonstrate that the same side of the moon is always facing the earth; the link to the video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j91XTV_p9pc . I stopped the video at exactly the 2:00 mark; the video is 7 minutes long and very interesting, but I needed to keep the kids on track! After watching the video demonstration, the kids tried rotating their pennies around the quarter again and I think the really understood what was going on at that point. More than one adult exclaimed that they had never heard about synchronous rotation.

This activity was probably the one that most people attending learned something new, and we spent less than 15 minutes including watching the video. The cost of this event was zero as I was able to collect all the coins that were handed out.

This is a very brief activity and fits in perfectly with the Moon Mythbusters activity. I don’t think there is enough in this activity to fill an entire program, though it could be set up as a passive learning station in a library – though I’d probably use fake coins to keep them from walking away.

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Penny Moon

Penny Moon

This is an activity about the rotation of the Moon. Learners use a penny and a quarter to model that the Moon does indeed spin on its axis as it orbits the Earth.