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Friday, May 3, 2013

Fun Science Friday

Since I do a lot of outreach, I thought it'd be fun to share some of the activities we do in classes. These can easily be done at home, and could be fun on a rainy day.

Make Your Own Impact Craters!

A fun, and very messy (so, FUN!) experiment to do is make impact craters! 

 Materials
- Some sort of wide, shallow bin (tin foil roasting pans or kitty litter pans work great)
- Flour
- Hot chocolate powder
- Sifter
- Various "impactors" (balls of various sizes, clay if you want to change shapes)
- Plastic sheets, garbage bags, or similar
- Paper towels
- Ruler and meter/yard stick if you want to be more scientific

Set-up
- Put down a large plastic sheet or a view garbage bags/newspapers/whatever (or do it outside!)
- Fill the bin about 1/3-1/2 full of flour
- Using the sifter, put a thin layer of hot chocolate on top
- Choose an impactor

Experiment
- What happens when the impactor hits? (A hole is made, obviously, but you should also see flour get ejected out of the crater - these are called ejecta rays)
- What happens to the crater if you change things in experiment? You can change things about the impactor (size, shape, mass), how you drop it (height, angle, speed), the material you drop it into (gravel, sand, jell-o, water, ice, etc.) - you can get very creative! Just see where it goes :)

Extension
If you want to be more scientific, you can go over dependent variables (things you measure as a result of the experiment: depth and width of the crater, length of the ejecta rays) and independent variables (things you change in the experiment: size/shape/mass of impactor, height of drop, type of material, etc.). You can then go over how to set up an experiment: chose ONE dependent variable to measure and ONE independent variable to change - all other independent variables need to stay constant (that way, you know what is causing the change). They can even come up with a hypothesis statement and take measurements.

If you want more information, just email me and I have additional resources that I can send!

Have fun!