Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore! Mars: Inside and Out

Mars Summit Up - Comparing Volcanos on Mars and Earth


Summit Up is a 20 minute activity in which children ages 8 to 13 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.

What's the Point?


For each child:

For the Facilitator:


1. Introduce the activity by asking the children if Mars or Earth has volcanos. Prompt them to recall the images they examined in earlier activities.

2. Provide the children with the volcano sheets, tape, scissors, and colored pencils. Ask the children what these drawings show. These are drawings of volcanos, one on Earth and one on Mars. On the paper, it is like looking down on the volcanos from above.

Ask the children to notice the squiggly circles around each one of their volcanos. Tell them every line represents one mile in height, or altitude. If they were climbing up one of these mountains, they would climb a mile for each line they walked across!

3. Have the children cut out both models. Have them color the shaded area on the smaller volcano blue. Invite them to cut out the outline of the volcanos and to cut the straight lines up the sides of the volcanos. Starting with the large volcano, help the children to very slightly overlap the edges of the cut and tape it, forming a gentle cone. Repeat for the second volcano.

4. Invite the children to examine their models. These are scale models of a volcano on Earth and one on Mars. While the models are smaller than the actual volcanos, they are both to the same scale and their sizes can be compared.

Share with the children that Mauna Kea, Earth's tallest volcano, rises about 6 miles (almost 10 kilometers) from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Mars' tallest volcano, Olympus Mons, is a little over 13 and a half miles high (about 22 kilometers)! That is over 7,000 stories high! Olympus Mons is the tallest known volcano in our entire solar system. Olympus Mons is not only tall, it's wide! It is almost 340 miles across — about the size of the state of Arizona! Mauna Kea is approximately 50 miles across (about 80 kilometers).

5. Revisit the models with the children.


Ask the children if they think there might be a pattern to the sizes of volcanos on Mars — do they think all the volcanos are bigger than Earth's?

Allow a few minutes for the children to record their ideas in their GSI Journal.