Welcome to Clip from Spiral logo

Interactive video lesson plan for: What If The Moon Disappeared?

Activity overview:

Without the moon, how would Earth's environment be affected? Would we survive?

Learn more at HowStuffWorks.com:

Share on Facebook: http://goo.gl/4yhFKp
Share on Twitter: http://goo.gl/w1HQqE
Subscribe: http://goo.gl/ZYI7Gt
Visit our site: http://www.brainstuffshow.com

Oh hey there BrainStuff. I'm Lauren. And it's time you and I had a talk... about the moon.

I know we haven’t been there in a while, but… it’s pretty rad. We think that about 4.5 billion years ago, something the size of Mars crashed into Earth and ricocheted into space to form the Moon. It even took some of Earth’s mantle with it. So there’s ancient chunks of our planet merged with space stuff up there, just hanging out in orbit.

But even with all that, I’m not sure the moon gets all the credit it deserves. If it wasn’t there, things would be a lot different here on our little blue planet.

First, we'd see some pretty dramatic changes to the ocean. The moon is responsible for most of the effects of tides. Without it, the tides would only be a third of the size they are now. This is because the sun would account for the major gravitational pull affecting the altitude of the ocean. And while the sun is way bigger than the moon (like 400 times bigger), it is also much further away. So the tides it creates only have about 40% of the strength of our current lunar tides.

Surfing wouldn’t be the only thing that suffered. Lots of ecosystems rely on the motion and changes of the tides to sustain them. Plus, the moon holds a bulge of tidal water around Earth’s middle that would disperse without its gravity, changing coastlines around the world.

Also, did you know that the moon helps slow down the rotation of Earth? Yep, without it we wouldn't have 24-hour days. They'd be more like 6-8 hours long. We'd have to remake our calendar to accommodate between one thousand one hundred and one thousand four hundred days per year. Not only would that screw up all of our schedules, but a faster rotation would also increase the amount of wind and storms on our planet.

If that's not enough extreme climate change for you, "no moon" would also destabilize the Earth's axis, unpredictably changing our tilt with side effects that would render the planet inhospitable to lots of its creatures.

Right now we're tilted at a lovely 23 degrees, which gives us relatively mild seasons and environments. But the moon acts as an external force that stabilizes that angle. Without it we could wobble anywhere between zero degrees (with no seasons and barely any sunlight) to 85 degrees, where the planet would fall over on its side like a kitten on a catnip high. Mars, for example, wobbles between only 15 and 35 degrees, and it experiences drastic climate changes where ice drifts all the way from its poles to its equator.

Finally, gang... I don't know if you've noticed, but the moon's pretty darn bright up there in the middle of the night. Sure, the sun is four-hundred-thousand times brighter. But sometimes it still hits your eye… you know, like a big pizza pie. Which means that without it, our nights would be a lot darker than we're used to. Try stumbling around in the woods without a moon and see how you like it.



Siegal, Ethan. "The top 5 things we'd miss if we didn't have a moon." ScienceBlogs. Aug. 8, 2013. (June 26, 2014) http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/08/08/the-top-5-things-wed-miss-if-we-didnt-have-a-moon/

Foing, Bernard. "If we had no moon." Astrobiology Magazine. Oct. 29, 2007. (June 26, 2014) http://www.astrobio.net/topic/exploration/moon-to-mars/if-we-had-no-moon/




Lunar and Planetary Institute. "Moon becomes geologically inactive." Universities Space Research Association. (June 26, 2014) http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/timeline/gallery/slide_29.html

Masters, Karen and Carter, Lynn. "What would happen if we did not have a moon?" Cornell University. 2000. (June 26, 2014) http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=104

ScienceLine. "How does the moon control the tides?" University of California Santa Barbara. (June 26, 2014) http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=353

Tagged under: brainstuff,brain stuff,howstuffworks, stuff works,science,technology,lauren vogelbaum,techstuff,fw thinking,moon,lunar, moon, moon, moon disappeared,space,NASA,earth,gravity,tides,lunar tides,sun,milky ,galaxy,tidal bulge,mars,planet,space exploration,spaceship,lunar colony

Clip makes it super easy to turn any public video into a formative assessment activity in your classroom.

Add multiple choice quizzes, questions and browse hundreds of approved, video lesson ideas for Clip

Make YouTube one of your teaching aids - Works perfectly with lesson micro-teaching plans

Play this activity

1. Students enter a simple code

2. You play the video

3. The students comment

4. You review and reflect

* Whiteboard required for teacher-paced activities

Share on:

Share What If The Moon Disappeared? on Google+ Share What If The Moon Disappeared? on Twitter Share What If The Moon Disappeared? on Facebook Pin What If The Moon Disappeared? Email What If The Moon Disappeared?

Ready to see what else Spiral logo can do?

With four apps, each designed around existing classroom activities, Spiral gives you the power to do formative assessment with anything you teach.


Carry out a quickfire formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking


Create interactive presentations to spark creativity in class

Team Up

Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices


Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes

1000s of teachers use Spiral to deliver awesome, engaging activities that capture students' understanding during lessons.

Now it's your turn Sign up

Spiral Reviews by Teachers and Digital Learning Coaches

Review of Spiral by teacher: Kathryn Laster @kklaster

Tried out the canvas response option on @SpiralEducation & it's so awesome! Add text or drawings AND annotate an image! #R10tech

Review of Spiral by teacher: Room 220 Math Stars @3rdgradeBCE

Using @SpiralEducation in class for math review. Student approved! Thumbs up! Thanks.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Miss Ord @ordmiss

Absolutely amazing collaboration from year 10 today. 100% engagement and constant smiles from all #lovetsla #spiral

Review of Spiral by teacher: Adam J. Stryker @strykerstennis

Students show better Interpersonal Writing skills than Speaking via @SpiralEducation Great #data #langchat folks!

Review of Spiral by teacher: Dr Ayla Göl @iladylayla

A good tool for supporting active #learning.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Brett Erenberg @BrettErenberg

The Team Up app is unlike anything I have ever seen. You left NOTHING out! So impressed!

Get the Clip Chrome Extension & Create Video Lessons in Seconds

Add Clip to Chrome