Investigating the moon

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By Jo and John Graham — Learning Unlimited, educational consultants and writers

Every child knows something about the Moon but learning just a little more about it provides a good opportunity to develop scientific enquiry and thinking skills

The Moon is the brightest object in the sky and has thousands of features which have been mapped and named. There are craters made by meteorites hitting the surface, rifts and rilles and huge, dark, waterless plains called ‘seas’. Even viewed through low-power binoculars the Moon has a stark, alien beauty. There is a theory that the Moon was formed from debris caused by a collision between the Earth and a large object. The Moon is about a quarter of the size of the Earth, gravity is much weaker and there is no air. The Moon has no atmosphere, weather or water to wear away its surface, so the fine-grained soil that we know is on the surface of the Moon has remained unchanged for billions of years.

Ages 7-11

Mini-craters

Learning objective: to explore the formation of impact craters like those on the Moon.

  1. Using the large poster as a stimulus, ask the children to suggest how the craters on the Moon might have been made. Can the children think of how they could make little craters in the classroom?
  2. Half-fill an empty, dry ice-cream tub with flour. Show the children how they can make a mini-crater by dropping a marble into the flour. Challenge them to plan a simple investigation to see what effect the height from which the marble is dropped has on the width of the crater it makes. Will doubling the height double the width of the crater?
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