Modeling Eclipses Lab

Three adult learners gathered around the model.
  • intermediate
  • advanced
  • ess1
  • low_tech
  • low_cost
CreditAmerican Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
  • english

This hands-on, guided-inquiry activity helps students to understand the geometry of lunar and solar eclipses by creating a physical, proportional model of the Earth and Moon system and observing shadows. This resource includes a Digi Kit, which is a web-based interactive lab that blends physics, geometry, and astronomy as students build and use a physical model to explore eclipse events as seen from Earth. Learners will configure the model to mimic the perfect Earth/Moon alignment that takes place during a total solar eclipse and compare relative proportions of the size of the shadow produced by their model to a NASA video of the shadow crossing Earth during a real solar eclipse. In addition, the Digi Kit integrates digital models, animations, and simulations to deeply explore eclipse phenomena. Included in the Digi Kit are an open source Astronomy textbook, math challenges, an activity to build a "sun funnel" to view an eclipse, and professional development video for teaching about orbits and eclipses.

Access the Eclipse Science Digi Kit at