Planet Surface Processes: Cratering, Volcanos, Erosion, and Weathering
This subject includes various geological planetary processes that occur on terrestrial planets. These are Lunar and Planetary Institute resources from our field trips, workshops, programs, and products. They include activities, images, powerpoints, recommended books and videos and Web sites, and more. We will continue to expand these sections as we develop additional resources.
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- Make a Volcano (5th–8th grades)
Students make repeated colorful “volcanic eruptions” using food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda. They examine how later flows overlap earlier ones and how earlier flows influence the paths of the subsequent flows. They determine a volcano's history of eruptions based on the layering of different flows.
- Make Impact Craters (5th–9th grades)
Students model the formation of an impact crater by dropping balls of different sizes and weights from three heights into a tray with layers of different colored powders. Students measure crater sizes and draw ejecta patterns to see what effect size, weight, and velocity have on the resulting craters.
- The Scoop on Moon Dirt (1st–6th grades)
Demonstrate the different properties of soil and the role of erosion in creating soil. Students examine two different local soil samples and compare them to lunar “soil” simulant. Students explore how soil forms on Earth by using water to wear down a “rock” of sand and ice. Next, they replicate the effect of wind using sandpaper and dry, brittle bread.
- Impact Cratering Lab (11th & 12th grade)
Students learn about the process of crater formation, various crater shapes, and characteristics of ejecta blankets surrounding craters. Students are also introduced to basic image processing techniques.
- Background on Planetary Processes (educator)
Includes information on Volcanism, Tectonism, Erosion, and Impact Cratering. Written for teachers and informal educators, this information would also be appropriate for students grades 7 and up.
- The Mars Millennium Project (7th grades and up)
This site compares storms, volcanos, ice caps, river channels, canyons, craters, islands, and desert plains on Earth and Mars, using detailed descriptions and photographs of both planets. Written at upper middle school and at an advanced level, in PDF format.
- The Fire Within: Plate Tectonics & Volcanism Across the Solar System ( PowerPoint Presentation)
- Terrestrial Impact Craters, second edition (high school –adult)
Orbital and aerial views of impact craters on Earth; some extraterrestrial structures included for comparison. Images can be downloaded and used for free for educational purposes; also available as a slide set. Images are accompanied by detailed information written at a high school to college level. 40 images
- Volcanic Features of Hawaii and Other Worlds (high school adult)
Volcanos and volcanic features in Hawaii compared to features on other planets, with an emphasis on understanding the similarities and differences in volcanism in the solar system. Images can be downloaded and used for free for educational purposes; also available as a slide set. Images are accompanied by detailed information written at a high school to college level. 40 images
- Planetary Processes: Recommended Books, A/V, and Web sites (PK–adult)
Recommended videos, books, and informative Web sites for a wide range of ages, on cratering, volcanos, erosion, and more.
- SkyTellers dvd and resource guide (K–8th grade)
LPI set comes with a dvd containing ten traditional Native American stories, each coupled with a science story. It also comes with a resource guide.
- Dr. Walter Kiefer’s Planetary Science Web sites (all ages)
Useful Web sites about NASA and planetary science, and links to selected websites concerned with human space flight, astronomy, and science education.
- Moon Formation and Processes Powerpoint (Educators)
A powerpoint developed for use in teacher workshops, to be used in conjunction with hands-on activities.