Most Recent Review
Sand, clay balls, and sling shots!
What I really like about this curriculum was how hands-on it is. Students first prepare the “Earth’s surface” which is a tub or tray of damp sand, and then they drop “asteroids” on it and take measurements of the resulting craters. Lot of things to explore here: the speed of impact, the mass of the asteroid, and the angle of impact to name a few. That last one required sling shots, and is now in the top 3 most fun activities they say we've done. This curriculum fit in perfectly with our overall physics curriculum, giving us a chance to apply lessons we'd learned on forces and motion, energy, and momentum. Lots of data, and lots of great graphing practice too, and I think it's worth mentioning that even my least motivated students were focused on collecting data.
A couple of things to remember when you try this: 1) The series of three experiments did take us a bit longer than expected, so make sure you have at least 8 class hours to dedicate to this project. 2) The water level in the sand is very important to monitor: too dry and the craters won't hold their shape; too wet and you get mud.
Overall, a great lesson for students who like hands-on labs. I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.