How to: homemade impact crater

8 Mar

This is a fun experiment to do at home, and it’s a pretty easy one as well. Good for fun yourself, and equally great for the kids or a classroom.

The video above gives a pretty good demo, and here’s the full explanation:

It’s great to do out in the yard where a bit of mess doesn’t matter, or at least do it on a hard surface that can be easily cleaned (lots of flour/cocoa dust gets thrown around!).

What you need:

– Medium/large container, at least 5-10cm deep (large Tupperware can work)
– bag of flour
– Sprinkles
– Cocoa powder
– Marble (or a small rock, like a piece of gravel)
– always wear eye protection when doing science experiments!

What you do:

– Put a layer of flour in the container, about 3-4cm deep (or more if you’d like)
– Put a thin layer of sprinkles on top of the flour
– Use a sieve or sifter to dust a thin layer of cocoa powder on top of that
– drop the marble into what you just made, and check out the impact crater

What you made should be reasonably flat, and each ‘batch’ can be used for several impacts (use your finger to gently flatten it back out if you need to).

What you see is a representation of how the different layers of soil (represented by the flour/sprinkles/cocoa powder) become energized and ejected by a meteorite impact.

The homemade crater impact

The homemade crater impact

You can try impacting your meteorite at different angles, from different heights, and at different velocities – though be careful throwing it too hard.

It’s worth noting though that no matter how hard you throw, we just can’t duplicate the amount of energy that’s released when an actual meteorite impacts something in space (whether we’re talking about it hitting Earth, the Moon, or Mars, etc).

Jesse and I also did this one on TV not too long ago, talking about the impact spotted on the Moon at the end of February:

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