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Collisions and Craters in the Solar System: Impacts!
Classrooms


Students of all ages can explore the results of impacts and begin to understand the variables that contribute to how an impact crater might look. Studying impacts and impact craters offers excellent opportunities for inquiry.

Begin with checking out this topic's featured activity, Impact Craters, which can be modified for any age group! You may also want to investigate the videos and interactives available under Educational Resources. Be sure to submit photographs, artwork, music, or words of students enjoying this activity to Share Your Stories.

Activities

Grades K-4
Observing activities are very appropriate for the younger grades. Observing the Moon can lead to questions about the craters on the Moon, which can lead to cratering activities.

Neither the National Science Standards nor the Benchmarks mention cratering and impacts until older grades. While there are activities for younger children to explore cratering, you may need to be sensitive to anxieties younger children may have about asteroid impacts on Earth. Science Education Standards.

Activity Description
Splat! Children model ancient lunar impacts using water balloons. By measuring the diameter of the crater area, children discover that the Moon's largest impact basins were created by huge asteroids!


Grades 5-8
There are many good and exciting activities for middle school students, and these align well with standards and benchmarks. Science Education Standards.

Activity Description
Comparative Cratering Processes Student teams create and record images of three types of impact craters: those formed from an impact, a volcanic explosion and a volcanic eruption.
Mars Uncovered This activity guides students through an inquiry-based, critical thinking approach to studying the surface of Mars; students create a geologic map of part of Mars and use relative age dating techniques of craters to analyze the information and interpret the geologic history of the region.
Impact Cratering on a Rainy Day We've seen plenty of pictures of a pockmarked moon. Now it's the students' turn to create their own multi-cratered surface. This activity is designed to teach how impacts can transform a planet or moon's surface again and again.
Designing Craters: Creating a Deep Impact This module is a two-to-three week student inquiry into the question: "How do you make a 7-15 stories deep, football stadium-sized crater in a comet?" The lessons are designed to provide students with experience in conducting scientific inquiries. Students will gain a greater understanding of scientific modeling and be involved with the excitement of a NASA mission.
The REAL Curriculum The Realistic Explorations in Astronomical Learning (REAL) curriculum scaffolds several lessons on the Moon and the other objects in the solar system to build an understanding of cratering and how it is used to measure relative ages.
Space Math: LRO Determines Lunar Cratering History Students count large craters on an LRO coded image of the lunar surface to estimate whether the impacting asteroids that produced the largest craters were from the same population of asteroids during the two different epocs of impacts.
Barringer Crater Education Modules These activities use the story and scientific context of the Barringer Meteorite Crater as the basis for an integrated STEM curriculum for use in middle school classrooms.


Grades 9-14
While impacts and impact cratering align more with standards for grades 5-8, many of these activities can address other standards, including standards for inquiry and technology. Science Education Standards.

Activity Description
Impact Craters: Holes in the Ground Participants model and examine the impact cratering process.
Impact Cratering Teachers and students use small projectiles to create craters of different sizes. Students learn how the projectile's mass and velocity help determine the size of the crater. Students also identify zones in the crater.
Designing Craters: Creating a Deep Impact This module is a two-to-three week student inquiry into the question: "How do you make a 7-15 stories deep, football stadium-sized crater in a comet?" The lessons are designed to provide students with experience in conducting scientific inquiries. Students will gain a greater understanding of scientific modeling and be involved with the excitement of a NASA mission.
Mars Uncovered This activity guides students through an inquiry-based, critical thinking approach to studying the surface of Mars; students create a geologic map of part of Mars and use relative age dating techniques of craters to analyze the information and interpret the geologic history of the region.
Space Math: Craters are a Blast! Students measure crater diameters in a photo of the Moon, and determine the energy required to create them using a simple quadratic equation.
DPS Slide Set: Another Impact on Jupiter This four-slide powerpoint by the Division of Planetary Science includes basic information for college-level introductory courses.
DPS Slide Set: Asteroid Detected Before Impact This four-slide powerpoint by the Division of Planetary Science includes basic information for college-level introductory courses.

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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014