Lunar and Planetary Institute

Explore! Fun with Science
Shaping the Planets
Activity at a Glance
Make a Volcano
Activity at a Glance
About Shaping the Planets
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Gelatin Volcanoes
Children ages 5–12 create transparent volcanos using gelatin.

Salt Volcano
Demonstration for volcanos where children ages 5–12 create glass jars filled with liquid, oil, and food coloring.

The Earth Bowl
Children ages 5–8 use gelatin, graham crackers, and other edibles to demonstrate that Earth is made of four layers. The “Earth Bowl” is a three-dimensional, edible representation of Earth in cross section.

Lava Layering
Play-Doh, baking soda, and cups are used for ages 5–12 to explore the patterns of lava flow produced by multiple volcanic eruptions.

Cake Batter Lava
Children ages 5–12 use cake batter to model lava flows.

Piles of Fire
Using sand, gravel, or beans, ages 10–14investigate how particle size affects the angle of a volcano's slope.

This activity is used to determine how fluid a liquid really is by measuring its viscosity.

Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon — The Liquid Rock Race
Children ages 10–14 learn about the properties of lava by experimenting with varying gas contents and viscosities of liquids.

Exploring the Environment — Volcanoes
Children ages 10 and older learn about volcanos and make decisions based on these environmental hazards.

Discovering Plate Boundaries
Designed to allow children to discover the properties of tectonic plates and their boundaries through their own observations and discussions. Primarily for children ages 10–16, this activity can be modified for any age level.

Clay Crash
Using a ball to represent planet Earth and clay to represent plate movements, children ages 5 and up can witness mountain building.

Make a Topographic Map
Children ages 8–12 will build their own mountain and make a topographic map of it. The children also learn what topographic maps have to do with space.

Academy Curricular Exchange — Columbia Education Center — Science
Demonstration of Earth's layers using fruit as the representative model, for ages 8–14.

Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon — The Earth, from Core to Crust
Children ages 14 and up build models of Earth's layers and develop an understanding that Earth is dynamic.

Paper Plate Education — Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate
Students ages 8–12 build a 3-D model of the planets to depict the interiors of each using paper plates.

Academy Curricular Exchange — Columbia Education Center — Science
This "Changing Earth" activity shows ages 8–10 that Earth's crust goes through continual alteration.

Crazy Craters
Children ages 7–12 experiment with imagery, rocks, flour, and chocolate milk powder to explore impact craters.

Impact Craters
Children ages 9–14 create craters and investigate the relationship of impactor mass and velocity to crater size.

Do You Know Your Comets from Your Meteors?
Children ages 5–12 will enjoy these comet and meteor activities.

The Planetary Society — Make Comet Balls
Through the use of Styrofoam balls, glitter, glue, straight pins, plastic bags, and markers, children ages 5–11 create the basic parts of a comet.

Comet Cones
Using ice cream, plastic bags, baking cups, wax paper, cookies, rolling pins, and spoons, children ages 5–9 create edible models of comets.

Paper Plate Education — Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate
Using clay and paper plates, children ages 10 and older recreate the features of an area of the Moon. This activity can be used to model the surfaces of other planets.

Mapping Mars — Geologic Sequence of Craters and River Channels
Children ages 8 and older examine planetary images and interpret the processes that created the visible features.


Last updated
February 23, 2005