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Activity 2.2 Modeling Martian Craters. Your Name Enter Date. Big Question: How do impact craters form?. Focus Questions: How do impact craters form on planets? 2. How do scientists study impact craters on Earth and Mars? 3. What do scientists learn by studying impact craters?.

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Activity 2.2

Modeling Martian Craters

Your Name

Enter Date


Big Question:

How do impact craters form?

Focus Questions:

How do impact craters form on planets?

2.How do scientists study impact craters on Earth and Mars?

3. What do scientists learn by studying impact craters?


Students will be able to:

Explain how impact craters form on planets.

2. Describe how scientists study Impact Craters on Earth and Mars and what they can learn from them.

3. Identify factors that influence size & shape of impact craters.

5. Use a 3-dimensional model to study impact craters.


Why Compare Earth and Mars?

Rocks from space crash into planets (including Earth) all the time. If space rocks are large enough, they will explode into the ground forming a crater.

(Craters are also formed on Earth and Mars by volcanoes.)

Space rocks that create craters are call Impactors.

The rock melts and sends fragments flying called ejecta which piles up around the crater and forms a raised rim.


Rocks from space have different names.

METEOROIDS - Rocks traveling through space

METEORS - Meteoroids that enter a planet’s atmosphere

METEORITES - Meteors that survive the trip and land

IMPACTORS - Meteorites that explode upon impact and create craters


Host Researcher

Earth and Space Science

  • Jim has visited craters all over the world, but can only view them on Mars from afar…
  • Impact craters on Mars can:
  • Uncover rocks below the surface
  • Help in determining age of areas
  • Show ejecta that look like mud… could have melted underground ice… water??

Jim Garvin, Ph.D.

NASA Chief Scientist

NASA Headquarters


Students Objectives for 2.2:

  • Explore how impact craters


  • Investigate factors that

influence the size and shape

of impact craters.

  • Create a 3-dimensional model

model of Martian Impact



Materials Needed:

  • Activity Masters 2.2 A & B
  • Safety Goggles
  • Trays with 5 cm deep flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Modeling clay
  • Toothpicks
  • Meter tapes
  • Balance scale (optional)

Lizzie shows the importance of wearing goggles


Procedure: Part 1

Set up flour tray with cocoa

Make clay impactor and drop it from 30 cm

Lift out with 2 toothpicks and make observations


Part 2 & 3: Design and Conduct an Investigation p. 63

Brainstorm factors affecting crater size or shape.

Choose one factor to investigate = INDEPENDENT VARIABLE

Choose a factor to measure each time you adjust Independent Variable = DEPENDENT VARIABLE


Design experiment and try it out!


Part 4: Modeling Martian Impact Craters

Outline rims of craters on Master 2.2A, measure and record on Master 2.2B

Calculate scale factor for your model

Using prior information, develop a plan to create a 3-D scale model of Craters A through E

Follow your plan and create the model in the flour tray, may take some trial and error

Complete the table on Master 2.2B


Observations: p 64

What factors influenced size and shape of craters?

How are your craters similar/different from Mars?

Was your 1st try at creating 3-D scale model successful? Why or why not?

Mary Cahill’s students


Conclusions: (answer suggestions p. 65)

What are some advantages and disadvantages of using 3-D models to study craters on Mars?

How could you make a more realistic model of craters on Mars?

Revisit Big Question - How do Impact Craters Form?


Multimedia Components

  • TJO & Digital Labs

Novel: Mars Year 1: Missing Brad Strickland & Thomas Fuller


National Science Standards:

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Earth and Space Science
  • History and Nature of Science
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

What standards in your state?, Team JASON Online, Teacher Center, then Align with Standards & Textbooks