Lunar and Planetary Institute

Workshop on The Heat From Within: Planetary Insights Into Planetary Volcanism   July 12-19, 2009   Eugene, Oregon


More activities can be found on the Heat From Within Resources Page

Discovering Plate Boundaries
Excellent inquiry based activity through which students in upper elementary through college can make observations about the patterns of features on Earth’s surface – and draw conclusions about Earth’s tectonic plates. Lots of easily understood background and PowerPoint resources for the teacher.

ALTA II Hand-Held Reflectance Spectrometer for the Classroom
The ALTA is a rugged, simple classroom instrument designed to help students in grades 5 to undergraduate learn about light, color, and spectroscopy. Using the spectrometer, students can collect data reflected from rocks, minerals, and other materials in specific wavelengths of the visible to infrared electromagnetic spectrum. Lesson plans are included. ALTA’s can be borrowed from the Lunar and Planetary Institute ( and

ALTA lesson plans also can be found here.

Exploring Planets in the Classroom - Hands-on Activities
This site contains over 25 hands-on activity lesson plans for educators. The materials are vetted by space scientists and span topics from general solar system to volcanology to Mars and the Moon.

Cake Batter Lava

Students use cake batter to understand how different lavas flow and the structures that are created.

Gelatin Volcanos
Jell-O is used to explore how lava flows in a volcano.

Destination Mars

Making and Mapping a Volcano
After having vinegar/baking soda eruptions, students use Play-Doh to mark where the lava flowed.  In teams they examine the stratigraphy and map the flows.

Explore! Mars – Inside and Out

Explore! Mars – Inside and Out is a hands-on, standards based activity module from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in which children ages 8-13 examine the surface features of Mars and Earth and infer what they tell us about the interiors of the two planets.

Setting the Scene
Setting the Scene, a 60-90 minute activity for children ages 8-13, engages participants in an exploration of Mars' surface features by comparing and contrasting them with surface features on Earth. As planetary investigators, teams of children examine images of volcanos, channels, and craters on Earth and Mars. The activity can be divided into two sessions, and is the lead-in to hands-on investigations of how volcanos, channels, and craters form. This can be followed up with a suite of activities that explore the formation of the different features using impact boxes, Play-Doh volcanos, and stream tables (

Summit Up - Comparing Volcanos on Mars and Earth
Summit Up is a 20 minute activity in which children make paper models to scale of the tallest volcanic mountains on Earth and Mars and discover a big difference between volcanos on these two planets.

Puzzling Patterns - Where Does Volcanism Occur?
Children compare volcano maps of Earth and Mars and identify patterns, similarities, and differences in this 30 minute activity.

The Icing on the Plate - Why are the Volcanos on Mars so Tall?
The Icing on the Plate is a 20 to 30 minute activity in which children create models with cake icing to compare the volcanos formed on planets with stationary surfaces and planets with moving plates. Children will gain an understanding of why volcanos on Mars are so large compared to those on Earth, and what the patterns of Earth’s volcanos tell us.

Cooling Planets

Cooling Planets is a 60 minute inquiry activity in which children, ages 8 to 13, take temperature readings from large and small containers of hot water, and graph the measurements to determine how volume affects cooling. They use this information to interpret the cooling histories of the different sizes of the inner, rocky planets of our inner solar system. 

Moon Mineralogy Mapper Education Web site
Seeing the Moon: Using Light to Investigate the Moon Educator Activities
A suite of hands-on inquiry based activities engage middle-school students in understanding and interpreting reflectance spectra from Earth and Moon rocks. These activities are part of a suite of educational resources that investigate the geologic history of our Moon, the Chandrayaan-1 Mission, spectrometry, and future lunar exploration.

Introduction -
Module 1 -
Module 2 -
Module 3 -

ALTA’s can be borrowed from the Lunar and Planetary Institute ( and


2009 Field Trip page


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