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Conflicting theories for the origin of the Moon
There are different views on the origin of the Moon. Investigation results can be interpreted in different ways which are sometimes conflicting. Critical thinking and matching evidence with theories are skills that are highly valued in science.
What you need
Copies of the information on four theories of the Moon’s formation, and 14 pieces of evidence that support or refute those theories.
- Why do scientists think that the solar system has not always been as it is today?
- What are the past and current views of how the solar system was formed?
- Why is it unusual that Earth is the only terrestrial planet that has a Moon?
- What sort of information could help scientists explain when and how the Moon was formed?
- What technologies do scientists use to make careful observations about space objects such as the Moon?
- Why do you think scientists might continue to debate different theories about how the Moon formed?
- As a class, discuss each theory of the Moon’s formation.
- In groups, assign a theory to each group.
- Get each group to choose the pieces of evidence that support or refute that theory. (This may require further research.)
- Have each group present their findings to the class, giving reasons for their decisions about whether each piece of evidence (or combinations of evidence):
- supports their theory
- refutes their theory
- has an uncertain/irrelevant relationship to the theory.
- After all groups have presented their findings, discuss with the class the pieces of evidence that seem to support two or more theories.
- Get the students to decide which is most likely to be the leading theory for the formation of Earth’s Moon and why.
- Why can’t scientists tell how the Moon formed just by making careful observations?
- Why have scientists changed their minds in recent years about the most likely theory of the origin of the Moon?
- How did you go about sorting out, and making sense of, this massive amount of often conflicting or ambiguous evidence?
- Why is it important to consider alternative theories when analysing a new piece of evidence?
- Which theory of the origin of the Moon is currently the one that the majority of scientists favour? Why?
- Information on the four theories of the Moon’s formation, and 14 pieces of evidence that support or refute those theories.