Featured Article: “If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like?”
This article is the first in a series called “Good Question” in which Randall Munroe, a former NASA roboticist turned web cartoonist, tries to explain — through text and illustrations — the scientific mysteries that keep readers awake at night.
In this lesson, students learn what the moon feels like and why. Then they explore the science questions that are on their minds.
The article you are about to read poses the question: If I touched the moon, what would it feel like?
What predictions can you make about what the moon feels like? What evidence do you have that could support those predictions?
Now, scroll through the illustrations in the article. What more do you learn from them about what the moon feels like? Use the information from the visuals to strengthen the predictions you made.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. What might the vacuum of space feel like, according to the author? What evidence does he use to support this idea?
2. How do the temperatures on the day and night sides of the moon compare with those on Earth? What factors influence those temperatures?
3. Why might you be able to touch the lunar surface with your bare hand without getting uncomfortably warm, but touching a lunar rock might make you yank your hand back in pain?
4. In your own words, write a brief response to the headline’s question: If you touched the moon, what would it feel like?
5. Return to your predictions from the warm-up. How many were correct? What questions do you still have about what the moon might feel like if you touched it?
What science mysteries do you wonder about?
“If you touched the moon, what would it feel like?” is just one of the many scientific queries from the public that Mr. Munroe has tried to answer. In his web comic XKCD, he takes on many more. Here are few examples:
Brainstorm a question you would like Mr. Munroe to answer and submit it to the “Good Question” column using the form below:
If you have more time, do some research to see if you can find the answer to your question. Then illustrate an explanation, or part of one, as Mr. Munroe does.