This is a hands-on science activity is great to keep the kids busy while school is out! It is incredibly fun for children and will be sure to keep them occupied (and a little bit messy)!
This hands-on science activity is a fun way to learn about how the size and speed of a meteorite affects the shape of the crater it creates. We recommend it for children of all ages.
As with all science activities, safety is extremely important! We always recommend wearing safety goggles. Parent supervision is required.
Supplies You’ll Need:
- Unbleached Flour
- 2 Large Aluminum Trays
- A Ruler
- A Pencil
- A Piece of Paper
- Hot Cocoa
- Small Rocks (Different Sizes)
- A Chair
- Safety Goggles
- Clear an open space in your kitchen and lay down newspaper.
- Fill one of the aluminum pans with flour approximately 1 -2 inches deep. Add a layer of cocoa powder to the top of the flour. Place the pan in the center of the newspaper.
- On a piece of paper, draw a table. The first column should be labeled as “Size of Rock”. The second column should be labeled as “Shape of Crater”. The third column should be labeled as “Height of Drop”.
- Set the rocks out on the table or counter. Arrange them by size from smallest to largest.
- Select the smallest rock. Record “Small” under the first column.
- Pull the chair to the edge of the newspaper so that when you stand on the chair you can drop the rock directly into the pan. Have your partner or parent measure the distance from your extended arm to the floor. Record this measurement under “Height of Drop”.
- Drop the rock into the pan and record the shape of the crater under the second column. Make sure you do not throw the rock into the pan.
- Repeat the above steps with each of the remaining rocks.
What Is Happening?
What did you notice about the shapes of your craters? Were they shaped like circles? Did they shapes change based on how high the rocks (“meteorites”) fell?
If you look at the moon through a telescope (or even just your eye) you’ll notice that there are lots of craters on its surface. Unlike our planet, the moon lacks an atmosphere. This means that meteorites constantly bombard the moon’s surface without burning up.
When meteorites hit the surface of the moon, an explosion occurs at impact. As a result, the craters produced are almost always spherical.
Using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), NASA scientists have created the first-ever comprehensive catalog of large craters on the moon. In this animation, lunar craters larger than 20km in diameter “light up” using LOLA elevation data. Craters light up in an east to west (Tranquillitatis toward Orientale) sweep around the Moon.
- Meteorites– space debris in the form of rocks, iron, and nickel.
- Atmosphere – the envelope of gases surrounding the earth or another planet.