All ages can experiment with making impact craters! This popular activity has been conducted in a wide variety of settings, and there are a number of ways to modify it to fit different ages.
Impact craters are formed when impactors such as asteroids smash into a planet or moon's surface. The factors affecting the appearance of impact craters include the size and velocity of the impactor and the geology of the surface. Use different colored layered materials such as cocoa, flour or baking soda, and cornmeal or sand to create a surface. Then drop impactors such as marbles onto the surface from various heights and measure various characteristics of the impact craters formed.
Modifications could include adding colored sugar crystals between the layers to see what is revealed by the impacts, or laundry detergent between the layers and then using a blacklight to analyze the cratering site. Try different thicknesses of the materials making up the surface, or making the materials damp, for further experiments.
Be sure to share your stories, images and videos about making impacts in your program!
Check out the Classrooms and Organizations and Clubs tabs for activities to do at home, in the classroom or in an informal learning environment.