The Scientific Method: An investigation of impact craters

Target Audience
  • Students
Hosting Center(s)
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Langley Research Center
Subject Category
  • Earth Science
  • Physical Science
  • Math
Unit Correlation
  • Exploring Engineering and Technology
Grade Level
  • 04
  • 05
  • 06
Minimum Delivery Time
  • 050 min(s)
Maximum Connection Time
  • 060 min(s)

Event Focus

How do scientists apply the scientific method to explore the formation of craters in our solar system?





This module is appropriate for video conference AND web conference presentation at Goddard Space Flight Center and Langley Research Center.

This interactive event provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the scientific method. They will investigate the factors that determine the appearance of impact craters and ejecta on surfaces found in space. Students will be guided to follow the scientific method and formulate a hypothesis about various aspects of projectiles that may strike a surface, causing impact craters and ejecta. Each step of the scientific method is explored and discussed as a visually demonstrated experiment unfolds.


Instructional Objectives Grades 4,5, and 6:




* The student will (TSW) describe a personal experience in conducting a scientific experiment.

* TSW determine which steps of the scientific method were applied.




* TSW conduct background research on the topic of impact craters using different mediums.

* TSW hypothesize the results of an experiment.




* TSW peer share their hypotheses and provide supporting argument for their prediction.




* TSW assess and suggest alternative methods to performing the experiment.



* TSW formulate conclusions by analyzing the data.

* TSW compare their hypotheses to the results.

* TSW adapt or modify their hypothesis based upon their observation of the experiment.


Sequence of Events


Pre-Conference Activities


The  pre-assessment located in the lesson guide includes a series of questions to determine the students' prior knowledge of impact craters. Answers for the teacher are provided.

Pre-conference vocabulary activities are included for use before the DLN event. These worksheets may be printed off and completed by the students with answers provided for the teacher.

Teachers may print out or allow students to search for and view pictures of various impact craters found on Earth and throughout the solar system in a textbook or via the internet.

Possible discussion questions:

-Why are impact craters found on Earth not easily recognized?

-How could we describe an impactor?

-What are the characteristics of the craters we have seen in these pictures?

-What are the major differences between the Earth and the moon?


Lesson Guide     


Videoconference Activities


During this event, students will work through an experiment using the scientific method, with no mess in the classroom for the teacher! Included in this event is a vocabulary review and an complete exercise following the steps of the scientific method. Students will formulate a hypothesis on a cratering experiment described to them by the host. The students will then watch a series of video clips of the experiment and record the data. They will analyze the data collected and create a conclusion verifying or voiding their hypothesis.


Post-Conference Activities


A post-assessment located in the lesson guide      is included with a series of questions that help determine the students' new levels of understanding. An answer sheet for the teacher is provided.

Students may develop a research plan for evaluating a new impact crater that just occurred on our planet. The students will first design or illustrate an impact crater and then compose a report, using event vocabulary, describing the exterior and interior parts of that crater. They will also have to deduce the characteristics of an impactor that could have created this crater.






Unifying Concepts and Processes

* Systems, order, and organization

* Evidence, models, and explanation

* Change, constancy, and measurement

* Form and function

Science as Inquiry

* Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

* Understandings about scientific inquiry

Physical Science

* Properties of objects and materials

* Position, motions, and forces of objects

* Interactions of energy and matter

Earth and Space Science

* Properties of earth materials

* Objects in the sky

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Page Last Updated: August 29th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator