Applied Science - Physics (KA)
Pre Lab 

  • Observing the night sky.
  • Deriving information from an observation.


  • moon
  • night
  • physics
  • sky
  • stars

Students are read a poem to help them increase their observational skills.


Observing and then describing nature is difficult. Precise definitions are needed. If the observations create a pattern, scientists can develop a mathematical formulation, that would help predict results. Other scientists, then attempt to observe and verify the prediction, through experimentation. As each prediction is verified, an understanding of the physical world slowly evolves. Scientists must observe something before they can understand it. Observation is important.

Although Mugambi's Moving Moon is fictional, it reflects how children view and interpret their world. The Moon has a schedule and comes out at night.  Children observe the night time sky and realize that the Moon is predictable. Mugambi moves to a new place and knows the Moon will follow him and therefore is a  comfort. Books like this can be used to illustrate the difference between illusion and fact. There are many additional books you can use to remind students there are many things we don't understand, but that is why we go to school.

Mugambi's impression of the Moon is very insightful. He realizes that because the Moon is up in the sky at night, he reasons that where ever you go, the Moon should be there. This is critical thinking, making an observation and concluding a reasonable explanation.  When early astronomers viewed the Moon, they had to figure out why it was always there. The observation must be made first before you can discover how and why.


  1. Emphasize that the science of Physics helps explain what is happening in the world and universe. The events that we see every day from throwing a ball to driving a car is due to the world we live in. Sometimes we don’t know how to explain it "scientifically." Observing "something" is the first step into understanding it.
  2. Read the poem Mugambi's Moving Moon. 

    Mugambi's Moving Moon
    by Cassy Fries

    Mugambi loved living in Africa
    There was so much to see and do
    Lions, zebras, monkeys and, giraffes
    These animals are just a few.

    But Mugambi was moving
    And he had to say goodbye
    To everything he knew
    From the ground to the sky

    “Goodbye lions and zebras
    I will miss all of you”
    And monkeys and giraffes
    I won’t forget you”

    Mugambi packed his suitcase
    He looked up to the sky
    Man in the moon
    I have to say goodbye

    Mugambi was moving to America
    He was scared and sad
    “You’ll make new friends
    Said Mugambi’s dad

    It was late at night
    Mugambi got on the plane
    He looked out the window
    “Things won’t be the same”

    From the plane window
    Mugambi got on the plane
    The man in the moon
    “Oh, please come with me”

    Mugambi was really tired
    And he went to sleep
    He dreamed of Africa
    Where the monkeys leap

    He was in America
    When morning came
    There were many buildings
    Nothing was the same

    There were many people
    But no lions in sight
    He looked for the moon
    But it was not night

    Animals live in America
    But they’re kept in a zoo
    Going to visit them
    Is what he should

    Mugambi left the airport
    And there was a yellow car
    It took him to his new home
    It seemed so very far

    Mugambi arrived to his home
    Then he ran to his room
    He unpacked his suitcase
    Cause his bedtime was soon

    He looked out the window
    From his new bedroom
    He saw his old friend
    The man in the moon.

    Ask a few questions about the poem that help the students see the science in the poem.

    Where is the Moon? In the sky, out in space.
    When can you see it?  Every 28 days there is a Full Moon, then the percentage of the "pie" gets less, until it disappears.  We call that a New Moon. 
    Does the Moon always come up in the same direction?
    Yes, in the east.
    At the same time?
    Does it always look the same? No
    Is the Moon moving?  Yes, the Moon rotates around like a spinning ball, but it also revolves (goes around) the Earth.


  3. As an extension, have the students record what the Moon looks like for the next month. It takes 28 days before it goes through a complete cycle of change.

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