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FOSS Planetary Science Investigation 5: Moon Craters (7 days)
Big Idea
Although active geological processes, such as plate tectonics and erosion, have destroyed or altered most of the very early rock record on Earth, other objects in the solar system, such as lunar rocks, asteroids, and meteorites, have changed little over billions of years. Studying these objects can provide information about Earth's formation and early history.(K-12 Framework Core Idea ESS1.C)
Essential Questions
Are lunar craters the products of volcanism or impacts? How can you design an investigation to get more evidence about impacts creating craters?
How does the size of a crater and its ray length vary based on the height of a dropped marble?
How does the size of the incoming object affect the size of the crater? the length of the rays?
Are lunar craters the result of volcanism or impact?
Part 6: Does Earth have craters?
Part 7: Where did the moon come from?

Formulate questions based on observations that lead to the development of a hypothesis.
Keep a record of observations, notes, sketches, questions, and ideas using tools such as written and/or computer logs.
Display data collected from a controlled investigation.
Select appropriate resources for background information related to a question, for use in the design of a controlled investigation.
Analyze data obtained in a scientific investigation to identify trends.
Communicate the results and conclusion of the investigation.
Explain the role of a hypothesis in a scientific inquiry.
Form a logical argument about a correlation between variables or sequence of events (e.g., construct a cause-and-effect chain that explains a sequence of events).
Describe how a major milestone in science or technology has revolutionized the thinking of the time (e.g., global positioning system, telescopes, seismographs, photography).
Demonstrate safe behavior and appropriate procedures (e.g., use and care of technology, materials, organisms) in all science inquiry.
Analyze results of data collection in order to accept or reject the hypothesis.
Analyze the impact of a major scientific development occurring within the past decade.
Design an investigation to test individual variables using scientific processes.
Formulate a conclusion based on data analysis.
Describe how science is an ongoing process that changes in response to new information and discoveries.
Conduct a controlled investigation, utilizing multiple trials, to test a hypothesis using scientific processes.
Formulate new questions based on the results of a previous investigation.
Describe how the rock and fossil record show that environmental conditions have changed over geologic and recent time.
Perform measurements using appropriate scientific tools (e.g., balances, microscopes, probes, micrometers).
Choose an appropriate graphic representation for collected data
  • line graph
  • double bar graph
  • stem and leaf plot
  • histogram
Explain the relationship among common objects in the solar system, galaxy, and the universe.
Conduct investigations Graph and analyze data Write explanations
Science & Engineering Practices
Students will drop objects into flour to model crater formation:
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Engaging in Argument from Evidence:  students use evidence to support their claim on crater size
Engaging in Argument from Evidence:  students cite specifc evidence to support their claim on crater formation
  • Developing and Using Models:  student use computer simulations to weigh evidence on origin of the Moon
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Content/Core Ideas
  • Craters of various sizes result when meteoroids of various sizes hit the Moon's surface.
  • Craters can be categorized by size and physical characteristics.
  • The Earth has had similar impacts but have been erased by dynamic processes on Earth.
  • The moon was formed by a massive impact early in Earth's history.
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and Effect
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
  • Systems and System Models
Learning Practices
CC: 7.RI.1:  Read The Controversy about Lunar Crater Formation
CC 7.W.1 Journal:  answer the Essential Question providing evidence
CC 7.W.1  Journal:  students write a position paper to supporting Shoemaker or Green on crater formation
CC:7.W.2: Journal:  students write a short essay on future impact events on Earth.
CC:7RI.1 Read The Crater That Ended the Reign of the Dinosaurs
CC:7.W.1  Journal:  students write a paper on the origin of the Moon citing evidence
Academic Vocabulary
  • meteoroid
  • impact
  • regolith
  • crater
  • ray
  • diameter
  • comets
  • asteroids
  • meteoroid
  • meteorite
  • ejecta
  • craters
  • simple craters
  • complex craters
  • terraced craters
  • flooded craters
  • ghost craters
  • basins
  • maria
  • tiny impact craters
  • ringed craters
  • superposed
  • sisters theory
  • daughter theory
  • big-impact theory
  • capture theory
Electronic Resources
Earth's Haunting Craters
Mid-summative Exam 5
Experimental Design
Journal--Postition Paper
Journal--Earth impact
Origin of the Moon Essay