Introduction: Educational Phases of the Moon Diorama

Educators! This project allows students to view the moon from all sides, learning the phases of the moon in a hands on interactive way! I built one and brought it into school when the topic was the phases of the moon. The class loved it and it helped them learn and visualize the phases of the moon. I would suggest for teachers to use this because it involves students. Remember as Benjamin Franklin said: "Tell me and I'll forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand..."

Step 1: Materials

Materials that you will need...

  • Cardboard box (shoebox works best)
  • Scissors and/or cardboard cutter
  • Duct tape (White is best)
  • Small flashlight (around one inch diameter is ideal)
  • String (Note: I used white string, though I would suggest using black)
  • Foam balls (available at most craft stores), 2 inches works well but I used 1 inch in this Instructable
  • Ruler
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Old pair of sunglasses (maybe)

Step 2: Cut Hole for Your Flashlight

On the small end of the box, measure 1.5 in. down from the top and make a mark. Now find the center of the width of the box. Draw a plus at this location to mark the hole center. Place the flashlight centered on the plus and trace around it. Using your cardboard cutter or scissors, cut along the circle you just made. Now stick your flashlight into your hole to test the size. If the hole is too small, shave off some of the inside of the hole, testing after cutting, until your flashlight fits snugly. Do not worry if your flashlight hole is too big, as the flashlight will be secured later.

Step 3: Creating Your "moon"

Cut at least 5 inches of string, to ensure that you have extra. Use a skinny piece of duct tape to tape one end of the string onto your foam ball. (your foam ball will be your moon). Open the lid of your box and locate the center of the lid in both the width and length. Make a plus mark at this spot. Cut a 3 inch strip of duct tape and cut it from one side through to the Center! Do not cut the duct tape through to the other side! Place the string so that it comes out of the center of the duct tape piece with 1.5 inches sticking through the tape on the non sticky side. The moon should be on the non stick side of the tape! Place the duct tape piece so that the where the string touches the cardboard is where the plus mark is. Close your lid and look through your flashlight hole to make sure that the moon and hole are lined up.

Step 4: Make the Looking Doors

Now, cut a total of 8 looking doors, 3 on each long side and 2 on each short side. To cut the looking doors, draw a small square big enough to look through and then cut all but one of the sides. I suggest 1inch wide by 1inch tall. The door should be able to flip open and closed. Repeat this for every looking door. If your box has a lid that flips open and closed and interferes with the doors, cut off part of the bottom of the lid, until the doors can open and close freely.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Before the next step, check one last time that your moon and flashlight hole are aligned. Cut the extra string from the moon so that there is no loose hanging string. Stick your flashlight into the hole and turn it on. Now look through one of the looking doors at the moon. I

f your moon reflects a lot of light, tape an old pair of sunglasses, or anything translucent black, to the flashlight, so that the light passes directly through the sunglasses. Your moon should not reflect as much light anymore. If your moon still reflects too much light, spray paint the inside of the box black.

If your flashlight fits in the hole securely or if you might want your flashlight back after this project, skip the next step. Finally, tape your flashlight to the box using a long piece of duct tape, and wrapping the duct tape around the flashlight, as shown in the fourth picture. Your phases of the moon diorama is complete!

Turn on the flashlight and look through the various looking doors. You should be able to recognize the phases of the moon, from full, waxing, waning, and new!

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