Moon rises when text­book least ex­pects it

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY

An as­tronomer in Shang­hai has voiced his con­cerns over an ex­er­cise in a science text­book that re­quires pri­mary school stu­dents to doc­u­ment their ob­ser­va­tions of the moon.

In Sum­mer Va­ca­tion Life, pub­lished by Shang­hai Ed­u­ca­tional Pub­lish­ing House, first­grade stu­dents are re­quired to ob­serve the shape of the moon be­tween 7 pm and 9 pm for 28 con­sec­u­tive nights.

But Tang Haim­ing, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Shang­hai Astro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety, said the task is mis­lead­ing be­cause the moon rises at a dif­fer­ent time every day.

For ex­am­ple, peo­ple liv­ing in Shang­hai were able to see the moon rise at 9:04 pm on July 12 and set at 7:32 am the next day. On July 13, it rose at 9:42 pm and set at 8:32 am the next morn­ing.

Stu­dents were also asked to leave the space empty if rain or clouds pre­vented them from see­ing the moon. They were re­quired to guess the shape of the moon later based on their ob­ser­va­tions dur­ing the 28 nights.

Tang said this may mis­lead the stu­dents, who might think the rea­son they could not find the moon be­tween 7 pm and 9 pm was bad weather, in­stead of the fact that the moon ac­tu­ally rose af­ter 9 pm.

“It’s a shame that the ed­i­tors do not have enough knowl­edge about science, and that such a mis­take was made in a science book,” said Tang, ad­ding that the mis­take was due to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that doesn’t fo­cus on de­tailed sci­en­tific knowl­edge.

The pub­lish­ing house could not be reached for com­ment by pub­li­ca­tion time.

Tang said that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the pub­lish­ing house has con­tacted him, telling him that it was or­ga­niz­ing a group of ex­perts to re-ex­am­ine all science-re­lated sub­jects in the book, and was study­ing how to im­prove stu­dents’ in­ter­est in science.

Some par­ents in Shang­hai said even many adults would not have no­ticed the moon mis­take.

“I helped my child ob­serve the moon every day, but I didn’t re­al­ize that the moon can’t be seen on some nights dur­ing the spe­cific time slot be­cause it rose at a dif­fer­ent time,” said Wang Shan­shan, a mother of a first-grade girl in the city’s Xuhui dis­trict. “I was ashamed be­cause I thought it was due to the weather con­di­tions.”

Wang sug­gested that the school or­ga­nize a one-day field trip to an ob­ser­va­tory in Shang­hai to in­crease stu­dents’ in­ter­est in astron­omy.

It’s a shame that the ed­i­tors do not have enough knowl­edge about science, and that such a mis­take was made in a science book.” Tang Haim­ing, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Shang­hai Astro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety

He Qi con­trib­uted to this story.

LIU ZHONGCAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Chil­dren es­cape the sum­mer heat on Sun­day by leap­ing into Donghu Lake in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, as a pho­tog­ra­pher records the ac­tion. The lake has served for years as an in­for­mal gath­er­ing place dur­ing hot weather.

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