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Back in 1963 when LAB-AIDS® shipped its first kit, we had a vision, to revolutionize the middle school classroom with one of the first inquiry-based approaches to learning science through hands-on activity. More Info

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit


In this unit, you will investigate the cause of the day–night cycle, the year, and the seasons. You will also investigate changes in the phases of the Moon. You will relate these changes to the motions of Earth and the Moon in space and to the way people measure time. Why do the daylight hours get shorter in the fall and then longer again in the spring? Does the amount of daylight explain why it is warmer in summer than in winter?

Content in SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit is organized into 14 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
63. Sunlight and Shadows Taking it Over Students read a story from the diary of a fictional student named Tyler. Tyler observes changes in the position and length of a shadow cast by a favorite tree and tries to investigate the changes. Your students react to Tyler’s ideas and generate their own ideas to explain the changing position and size of the shadow. They also discuss how to improve Tyler’s investigation, preparing them to design their own investigations in the next activity.
64. Measuring Shadows, Measuring Time Investigation Based on Tyler’s investigation in the previous activity, students design an improved investigation to observe shadows during the day. They relate their observations to the changing position of the Sun in the sky and suggest how their sun sticks can be used to measure the time of day.
65. A Day on Earth Modeling This activity introduces the explanation for some of the observations students made on the apparent motion of the Sun throughout the day. They investigate one characteristic of planetary motion—Earth’s rotation around its axis. Confronting a variety of preconceptions about the cause of daylight length, they analyze observations that contradict or support each explanation. You present a demonstration of the scientific explanation for Earth’s day–night cycle and for the apparent movement of the Sun from east to west during the day.
66. As Earth Rotates Reading Students read a summary of the effects of Earth’s rotation around its axis. They review the historical use of sun sticks and sundials to tell time and are introduced to the concept of time zones.
67. Sunlight and Seasons Investigation Students consider the decrease in the size of the shadow of Tyler’s tree from spring to summer. They graph and analyze data on length of daylight and the angle of the Sun during the course of a year and relate the patterns they observe to seasonal changes. They discover the correlation between daylight length and the position of the Sun in the sky, and relate these variables to the seasons. This awareness of seasonal patterns in the Sun’s position and apparent motion prepares them for a discussion of the reasons behind these changes in Activities 68–70.
68. A Year Viewed from Space Computer Simulation Students use a computer model to investigate the effects of the revolution of Earth around the Sun and Earth’s tilt on seasonal changes in the Northern Hemisphere. Students use the simulation to observe Earth as it revolves around the Sun and to record data for different seasons. They use their observations to develop an explanation for the cause of Earth’s year and seasons.
69. Explaining the Seasons Modeling Students continue to explore the effect of Earth’s tilt in determining the seasons. Two teacher demonstrations show that light is more concentrated, or less spread out, when it strikes a surface at a 90° angle than at any other angle. Using a photovoltaic cell, students explore how the angle of the sunlight striking it affects the amount of solar energy the cell absorbs.
70. The Earth on the Move Reading Students read a summary of the reason for Earth’s seasons. The reading emphasizes the role of Earth’s tilt in determining the angle of the Sun’s rays and the length of the day, both of which contribute to seasonal variations in temperature. Students complete a three-level reading guide to help them process the information in the reading.
71. The Predictable Moon Field Study Students have observed and recorded the phases of the Moon over a two-to-four week period. They will examine these observations and those of the fictional student Emily. They look for a pattern in their observations and Emily’s and determine the appearance of the Moon on days missing from Emily’s data. They establish that the lunar cycle is a little shorter than a typical month. This activity reinforces their personal observations of the lunar cycle.
72. Explaining the Phases of the Moon Modeling Students explore physical models to help them understand the reason for the apparently changing shape of the Moon. These models use a light to represent the Sun and a white or pale ball to represent the Moon. The models introduce students to the idea that the Moon’s phase at any given time depends on the Moon’s changing position relative to Earth and the Sun as the Moon orbits (revolves around) Earth. In the next activity, students will explore a computer model of the same idea. Using both models best helps students visualize the revolution of the Moon and how it explains the changing appearance of the Moon as viewed from Earth.
73. Moon Phase Simulator Computer Simulation Working at computers, students use a simulation that shows the positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon that cause moon phases as the Moon revolves around Earth. They watch the simulation, sketch what they observe during different phases, and explain the reason for each Moon phase observed from Earth. They then connect this experience with their observations of the lunar phases and the physical models used in the previous activities.
74. Tides and the Moon Investigation Students analyze the relationship between a phase of the Moon and the occurrence of extreme tides. Using data on full moons and extreme tides plotted on a calendar, students calculate the 29.5 day lunar cycle. They also observe the relationship between extreme tides and the full Moon and new Moon. They begin to explore the roles of the Moon’s and Sun’s gravitational pull on the oceans in causing the tides.
75. Marking Time Talking it Over Students read and discuss the descriptions of three different calendars and then consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. They next read about three fictional places and select a calendar that might fit with each place’s characteristics and culture. After discussing the variety of calendars used throughout the world today by different cultures, they consider a proposed international calendar and recommend whether this calendar should be adopted.
76. Planets in Motion Investigation Students work in groups of four to analyze data about a fictional planet and use the data to predict the day length, year length, extent of seasonal variation, and tides for the planet. The groups model and discuss the characteristics of their planet in a presentation to the class. They prepare a concept map to show their understanding of main concepts gained during the course of the unit.

A full suite of course tools is available for teachers, as follows:

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit

Student Edition

The Student Edition guides investigations and provides related readings. It uses a variety of approaches to make science accessible for all students. SEPUP’s integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing.

eStudent Edition

Availible in both download and online access platforms.

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit

Teacher Edition

The SEPUP Core Curriculum Teacher’s Edition takes you through each activity in the Student Edition and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the units and the course you are teaching. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment. The Teacher’s Edition is packaged as a series of loose-leaf binders that you can personalize with annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. The Teacher’s Edition provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher’s Edition.

Complete Material Package

All SEPUP materials packages are designed with teachers, students and environmental considerations in mind. Traditional laboratory style classrooms are not necessary to teach SEPUP. Materials packages include most of the items needed for the activities. They support multiple classes – typically up to five classes of 32 students (160 total students) – before consumables need to be replaced. It’s important to note that materials are consumed at various rates; therefore, it will not be necessary to replace all consumable items every year. Exclusive to SEPUP programs are the molded tray liners that keep everything in place and easy to locate – even in a hurry.

Online and Technology Tools

These include the Exam View suite of assessment tools and more than 100 web links for each of the three SEPUP 6-8 courses, to be used for basic instruction and enrichment.

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 8, Cycles and Seasons unit Item # Price Quantity