Universe Cycle - Earth (4)
Post Lab 

  • Comparing the landscapes of the Earth and Moon.
  • Exploring types of erosion that occur on Earth.
  • erosion
  • ice
  • Moon
  • revolution
  • rotation
  • water
  • wind

Students compare the landscapes of the Earth and the Moon.

Lunar surface


The surfaces of the Earth and the Moon are very different. The surface of the Earth is dynamic because it changes constantly. This is caused by movement of crust, erosion by water and wind, and living organisms. Plate tectonics changes the positions of the continents, reshapes ocean basins, and creates mountain ranges and volcanoes.

The Earth’s atmosphere and abundant liquid water and ice on its surface causes erosion and reworking of the Earth’s surface. The wind blows, moving material from place to place. Running water and ice carve away at rocks and loose material. Through time, these processes act to flatten the Earth’s surface, wearing away mountains and filling in low areas.

The Earth’s surface is modified by the presence of life. The activity of life enhances the effects of physical surface processes. In addition, life has modified the compositions of the atmosphere and oceans. The combination of these forces means that the Earth’s surface is very young.

The surface of the Moon changes slowly, because none of these factors are active. The Moon is essentially "dead" geologically with little tectonic activity. The Moon lacks an atmosphere, and the small amount of water that is present is "buried" in the polar areas. Finally, there is no life on the Moon.

The major factor which does change the Moon’s surface is the impact of meteoroids, forming craters. Even this process is very slow today; most of the Moon’s craters, and all of the large ones, are hundreds of millions to billions of years old. The surface of the Moon is very old, compared to the Earth.

  1. Ask the students to think about why the Moon and the Earth are different. You may want to have students fill in a chart like the one below.



type of erosion





water, wind, ice, heat






craters, dust, rocks

  1. Have the students take turns reading What the Moon is Like and All about the Moon out loud, or read them to the class yourself. The books ask the students to consider what the Moon looks like from the Earth. There have been many myths and stories about this, but it was not until astronauts walked on the Moon, that people could actually describe what was there. This story also follows what the students have learned about craters in previous grades, but also informs them that there are rocks and dust on the Moon’s surface. You can use the pictures in the book to give students a good sense of what the Moon looks like. In addition, the websites listed below have excellent pictures of the lunar surface.
    1. http://www.inconstantmoon.com/ - Inconstant Moon - shows the phases of the Moon, plus daily information and images of the lunar surface.
    2. http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/vplanet.html - The Earth and Moon Viewer. This site shows what the Earth and Moon look like at any given time, from various positions in Earth orbit. Good images.
  2. Have the students draw the different landscapes that they would see if they were on the Moon and the Earth. Make sure that they realize that the Earth's surface can have trees, life, water, and clouds. Where the Moon's surface can only have craters and rocks. Have the students refer to the books to make sure that they are drawing the Moon's surface accurately.

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