Experiment with Crater Science

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Updated on Jul 2, 2013

In kindergarten, kids frequently learn to identify the sun, moon, and stars, and sometimes the planets as well. They often look at pictures of the moon, and hear about how “craters” have formed on the surface of both moon and earth. So what's a crater and how does it happen? Here's a kindergarten experiment with safe, nontoxic household ingredients.

What You Need:

  • Wide mixing bowl
  • Flour
  • Ping pong ball
  • Superball
  • Marble
  • Yard stick
  • Small pebble

What You Do:

  1. Take out the mixing bowl and fill it half full with flour. Have your child run her hand across the top of the flour so that it's flat and even.
  2. Now invite your kindergartener to use her imagination. Tell her that in this experiment, the flour represents the dusty surface of the moon, except it has no craters. That's the job of this experiment!
  3. Now lay out the ping pong ball, superball, marble, and small pebble. Invite your scientist to lay them out a few ways: by size, then by weight. (Make sure she notices how the ping pong ball may be biggest, but it's not the heaviest!)
  4. Now take the yard stick, hold it upright, and measure one foot high. Invite your child to drop each object from that height onto a different part of the flour. What happens?
  5. Gently pull each object off, leaving the flour imprint, and write the results in a quick chart on a piece of paper. Which one made the biggest puff of dusty flour? Which one went deepest? Which one left the widest crater?
  6. Now smooth the flour and try the experiment once more, from two feet above. What happens now?

Explain to your child that this is how craters form in nature, only with huge big chunks of planetary material. Complex understanding of concepts like mass and volume will follow in years to come, but right now, you are helping your child gain hands-on, common sense familiarity with how all this works in the real world.

Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.

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