To learn some basic concepts about craters on Mars using three investigative techniques: image interpretation, modeling, and Mars-Earth comparisons.
Students examine images of Martian craters and speculate about what caused them. Next, they model the formation of an impact crater by dropping objects into a tray of powder. They examine the effects of each impact and the features each impact creates. Students re-examine the images of the Martian craters to see if their modeling experience gives them additional insights. They create hypotheses to try to explain a feature not seen in their models, a mud-flow-like ejecta blanket. Students write a plan to test one of the hypotheses and carry out their investigation. Finally, students apply their modeling experiences by making several inferences.
- Impact craters are caused when a bolide collides with a planet.
- A crater's size and features depend on the mass and velocity of the bolide.
- Impact craters provide insights into the age and geology of a plant's surface.
- The Martian surface contains thousands of impact craters because, unlike Earth, Mars has a stable crust, low erosion rate, and no active sources so lava. So, impact craters on Mars are not obliterated as they are on Earth.
- Interpreting images of craters
- Comparing craters on Mars and Earth
- Modeling geologic processes
- Designing and conducting a Mars Ğrelated investigation
- Collecting and interpreting data from a classroom experiment
- Drawing conclusions and Making inferences
- Image set
- One tray per group such as a dish pan, pizza box or lid from copy paper box
- Very fine, light and dark colored powders such as silica sand, flour, plaster, mortar powder or grout (comes in different colors), chocolate pudding, powdered cocoa, powder charcoal or corn meal
- Bolides of various sizes such as golf balls and small rocks (1-4 cm.)
- Sieve, large spoon or cheese cloth to sprinkle the dark powder
- Meter stick or string to measure the two-meter dropping height
- Card or ruler to smooth the surface of the powder
- Newspaper or drop clothes
- Large sheets of paper to record ideas from the class discussions.
Day 1: Steps 1-7
Homework Step 8
Day 2 Steps 9-11
Day 3 Step 12
Homework Step 13-14