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The sun makes the moon shine!


The moon has no light of its own. It reflects the sun’s light. At any time, half of the Earth and half of the moon are lit by the sun. The other half is in shadow!

Of course we are on the Earth, so we can only see the moon’s changes. Play this movie to see the different shapes or phases of the moon. The reason we see different shapes is because the Earth and moon are both moving. The reason we see light is because of the sun!

Try It!


  • Flashlight
  • Mirror
  • Ball
  • 3 friends
  • Dark room


Remember not to shine the flashlight into eyes. It can damage them.



  1. One person holds the flashlight (to represent the sun.)
  2. One person holds the mirror (to represent the moon.)
  3. The last person holds the ball (to represent Earth.)
  4. All three people should stand in position to form a triangle.
  5. Turn off the room lights and observe the ball.
  6. Turn on the flashlight.
  7. Shine the light from the flashlight onto the mirror.
  8. Hold the mirror so the light is reflected to the ball.
    • The moonlight we see on Earth is reflected light from the sun.


  1. How difficult was it to see the ball with all the lights off?
  2. Did the reflected mirror light shine on all sides of the ball at once?

Download the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 3rd grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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