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Lesson Title: Finding Impact Craters and Water Systems
May 11, 2012

Unit: Earth and Space Science - Remote Sensing

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Science, Technology and Mathematics

Teacher Prep Time: 1 hour
(depending on instructor's familiarity with landforms and availability of student Internet access)

Lesson Time Needed: 3 hours

Complexity Basic

Keywords: Earth, topography, atmosphere, satellite technology, scientific process, satellite images, extraterrestial objects, meteorite, teamwork, data analysis, velocity, kinetic energy, latitude, longitude, geography


Finding Impact Craters
Student Worksheet for Step 1:
When An Extraterrestrial Object Hits the Earth
Student Worksheet for Step 2: Known Effects of Impact Events
Student Worksheet for Step 4: Describing Satellite Images of Possible Impact Craters
Student Worksheet for Step 6: Questions You Would Ask on a Field Expedition to a Possible Impact Crater

Satellite images of landforms with pseudonyms for student use
(Students may recognize some names and know already whether they are impact craters.)
Aorounga (Aor)
Elgygytgyn (Elg)
Haughton (Hgh)
Manicougan (Man)
Mount St. Helens (Msh)
Richat (Rch)
Schooner (Sch)

Teacher Reference Sheet

Model of Catchment Basin
Miscellaneous objects used to create the model infrastructure
Outdoor models may use sand, wood, rocks, etc.
Indoor models may use classroom items such as buckets, bowls, rolls of paper towels, etc.
Plastic sheet (2 by 2 meters)
Spray bottle with water
Red food coloring
Permanent marker
Topographic map
Satellite images of Earth and Mars (listed in Lesson Activities)

Remote satellite images of the Earth are used to distinguish impact craters from other landforms. Water systems may also be studied. By constructing a model of a catchment basin, students can see how remote satellite images are used to learn about drainage systems and catchment basins on Earth as well as their possible existence on other planets.

Students will:
• Describe the effects of extraterrestrial objects upon the Earth's topography, atmosphere and living organisms.
• Describe the role of satellite technology in helping scientists to identify evidence of impact events.
• Define the concept of a catchment basin and a watershed.
• Give examples of how their model relates to the real world.
• Give examples of basic concepts of catchment basins and watersheds, such as water runs downhill, hills make divides, low-lying areas create pooling and water quality is affected by what is upstream.
• Draw conclusions as to how their model may be used to study images of Mars.
• Compare and contrast drainage systems and catchment basins with features on Mars.
• Describe why and how science is an ongoing process of discovery.

First page of Finding Impact Craters and Water Systems

Lesson Guide
Impact Craters Water Systems Lesson
[306KB PDF file]



Lesson Activities and Sequence

  1. Finding Impact Craters
    This activity will guide students through discussions regarding known impacts that have occurred on the Earth and the possible outcomes that have resulted.
    Working in teams of three to five, students will then evaluate satellite images of the Earth to determine the traits associated with impact craters in different regions of the world.
    The activity description contains six steps with the first three steps providing background, which may or may not be required for every group in the upper grade levels.
  2. Hydrology Investigation: Model a Catchment Basin
    This activity introduces what a catchment basin is and how it works. The students construct a 3–D model of a catchment basin and use the model to investigate basins and water pathways.
    Use NASA satellite images to further explore the basins and water pathways. Challenge the students to compare and contrast the known features of Earth with what is evidenced in the satellite images of Mars.
    › Pennsylvania
    › China
    › Mars - 1
    › Mars - 2

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Physical Science
• Properties and changes of properties in matter.
• Motion and forces.
• Transfer of energy.

Earth and Space Science
• Structure of the earth system.
• Earth's history.
• Earth in the solar system.

National Geographic Society, NCGE
The World in Spatial Terms
The Uses of Geography


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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator