Part of our astronomy study had sixth grade learning about the structures on the moon, with attention given to the craters. Through a role-play discussion and watching excerpts of two videos about craters (1971’s “Controversy Over the Moon” and 1997’s “Asteroids: Deadly Impact“), students were introduced to Dr. Jack Green and Dr. Eugene Shoemaker – two geologists who held conflicting theories on moon crater origins. Confirmed from the findings from the later Apollo missions, we came to learn that craters on the moon (and many here on Earth too) were predominately created by meteoroids crashing into the moon’s surface.
To simulate such an event, a basin filled with flour and cocoa powder (simulating the moon and its regolith) suffered through several rounds of bombardment by marbles and irregularly-shaped stones (standing in for meteoroids). Falling from heights ranging from 0.5m – 2.0m, we watched ejecta form raised hills on the outside of craters and extend out to form rays. Increasing the height of the drop increased the speed at which the object struck our moon, resulting in deeper craters and longer rays. For a grand finale, a ten pound ball, five-inches in diameter was dropped from a height of approximately 3.2 meters (about 10.5 feet), resulting in a large crater and ejecta spraying out into the crowd.