Extremities:  Geology and Life in Yellowstone and Implications for Other Worlds

IMPACT CRATERS - 1

Horton Newsom taught the Impact Cratering classroom activity, which permits the students to model a vigorous natural phenomenon in the classroom, form testable hypotheses, design the tests, and take qualitative and quantitative data in testing their hypotheses. Versions of this activity appear in several places, most accessibly in the "Planetary Geology" and "Exploring the Solar System" curricula.


Inside is Possible
 
Outside is More Fun

Hort Newsom starts off the Impact Craters activity in the lab. The impact target flour with a thin layer of tempra paint powder sifted onto the top. Sand (playground or casting) or sugar can be used for the target - they make more realistic craters, but the ejecta doesn't go as far.
 
Running the exercise outside permits more freedom of movement, ease of 'cleanup,' and more power than is safe inside. Here, Hort sifts tempra powder onto the top of a flour target.
     
Experiment!
 
Measure!

Joan, Joe, and Valerie chose a shady spot to make impact craters by dropping marbles. Does the size of crater change with impact speed (=height of marble when dropped)? How far is the ejecta thrown?
 
Quantify your results! Measure how far the ejecta was thrown on impact (using metric units, of course!). The blue tempra makes it easy to see how far the white flour has been tossed.

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Updated 11/15/02.
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