If you look at the Moon, you’ll notice that it looks different each night. It’s fully round on some days, and on some others, it’s crescent-shaped. Each night it becomes smaller and smaller until it disappears. A few days later, it reappears again, and the cycle repeats. Have you ever wondered what causes this and how the Moon becomes different each day?
This is because of a phenomenon called the lunar phases or phases of the Moon. The Moon doesn’t emit light; it reflects Sunlight. The phases are caused due to the changing angles of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun. As the Moon rotates around the Earth, different portions and sides of the Moon are lit by the Sun. These are the different shapes or fractions of the Moon we see. The easiest way to help children understand this concept is by performing science experiments for kids or science projects. Science projects like the Moon phases project using oreo cookies help kids learn about the lunar phases in a fun way.
In this article, explore:
- What are the Phases of the Moon?
- Moon Phases Project: How to Make the Phases of the Moon using Oreos
What are the Phases of the Moon?
Have you ever wondered why the Moon has a different shape each day? Or how does the Moon shine? The Moonlight we see on Earth is actually Sunlight reflecting off the grayish-white surface of the Moon. The Moon appears in a different shape each night because of a phenomenon called the phases of the Moon or the lunar phases. The lunar phase is the shape of the portion of the Moon directly lit by Sunlight as seen from the Earth.
So what are the phases of the Moon? The Moon goes through 8 phases each month, and this is why we see different shapes of the Moon throughout the month. The 8 phases of the Moon are:
- New Moon: When the Sun hits the far side of the Moon, it lights up the side facing the Sun. The other side of the Moon, facing the Earth, is dark. So, the Moon is not visible from Earth.
- Waxing Crescent: In this phase, the Moon appears to be a thin crescent on the right from the Northern hemisphere.
- First Quarter: In this phase, we see a half Moon.
- Waxing Gibbous: The word waxing means getting bigger. In this phase, the Moon is bigger than in the first quarter but smaller than the full Moon.
- Full Moon: On a full Moon day, the full disc is illuminated, and it appears completely circular in shape. This is because the Sun reflects off the near side of the Moon and it appears completely illuminated.
- Waning Gibbous: Waning means getting smaller, and in this phase, the Moon appears smaller in shape than the full Moon but bigger than half Moon.
- Third Quarter: In the third quarter, we see a half Moon on the left from the Northern hemisphere.
- Waning Crescent: In the waning crescent phase, the Moon is a thin crescent of light on the left side.
Moon Phases Project: How to Make the Phases of the Moon using Oreos
The Moon takes 27 days to orbit the Earth. Every month, we see the 8 phases of the Moon as the Moon orbits the Earth. One of the easiest ways to help kids understand the lunar phases is a Moon phases project using oreos. This edible experiment helps the child understand the lesson better and also helps them retain the information in their memory. Once the Moon phases project is complete, hand the children a phases of the Moon worksheet to reinforce the lesson.
Aim of the Project
The aim of this simple, edible science project is to help the children understand the lesson on lunar phases using oreo cookies. Kids remove the frosting on the cookies to represent the illuminated area and the shadows on the Moon as seen from Earth.
Things You’ll Need
The phases of the Moon oreos project is fun to do and is also inexpensive. All you need are:
- 8 Oreo cookies (keep 8 extra cookies)
- A large plate or platter to place the oreos
- A knife or popsicle stick or spoon to scrape off the frosting
- Carefully twist an oreo cookie to open it. Ensure that all the frosting is intact and on one side of the cookie. If the cookie breaks or the frosting is spread unevenly, eat it and try with another cookie.
- Repeat the process until you have 8 cookies with frosting on one side.
- Leave the frosting on one cookie intact; this represents the full Moon.
- Use the knife or popsicle stick to scrape off the frosting completely from one cookie. This cookie represents the new Moon.
- Next, scrape off exactly half the frosting from 2 of the cookies. These cookies represent the first quarter and the third quarter.
- Now, we make the waxing and waning crescent phases of the Moon. Use a spoon to scrape off a large amount of the frosting from 2 cookies leaving just a thin crescent shape. The cookie with the crescent to the right represents the waxing crescent Moon. The cookie with the crescent to the left represents the waning crescent Moon.
- Finally, use the spoon to scrape off a thin, crescent-shaped sliver of frosting from 2 cookies. These cookies represent the waxing gibbous and waning gibbous phases of the Moon.
- Place the cookies in a circle. Start with the new Moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full Moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and finally, waning crescent.
- Your Moon phases project with oreo cookies is now ready.
For more science projects, activities, games and worksheets that make learning fun, check our kids learning section.
Frequently Asked Questions on Phases of the Moon Oreos
What is the Moon phases project?
This is a simple science project to demonstrate the different phases of the Moon using oreo cookies.
How does doing the phases of the Moon oreos project help kids?
The Moon phases project using oreos helps children visualize the 8 phases of the Moon and understand their lesson better.