|Laboratory Title: Asteroids, Meteors and Comets, Create Your Own Edible Asteroid!
Name: Rachel Sticka
Concepts Addressed: Asteroids, Meteors, Meteorites, Meteoroids, Comets, Measurement, and Minerals
Lab Objectives: Students will:
Understand the difference between asteroids, meteors, and comets.
Make dough using a variety of ingredients.
Create their own edible s-type asteroid using food as various minerals.
Explore the composition of asteroids using food.
Explore the movement of asteroids, meteors and comets.
Explore the impact made by asteroids, meteors, and comets.
K.1 Structure and Function: The natural world includes living and non-living things.
K.1P.1 Compare and contrast characteristics of living and non-living things.
K.2 Interaction and Change: Living and non-living things move.
K.2P.1 Examine the different ways things move.
K.2E.1 Identify changes in things seen in the sky.
K.3 Scientific Inquiry: Science explores the natural world through observation.
K.3S.1 Explore questions about living and non-living things and events in the natural world.
K.3S.2 Make observations about the natural world.
K.4 Engineering Design: Engineering design is used to design and build things.
K.4D.1 Create structures using natural or designed materials and simple tools.
1.1 Structure and Function: Living and non-living things have characteristics and properties.
1.1P.1 Compare and contrast physical properties and composition of objects.
1.1E.1 Examine characteristics and physical properties of Earth materials.
1.2 Interaction and Change: Living and non-living things interact.
1.2P.1 Describe the motion of objects when a force is applied.
1.3 Scientific Inquiry: Science explores the natural world using evidence from observations.
1.3S.1 Identify and use tools to make careful observations and answer questions about the natural world.
1.3S.2 Record observations with pictures, numbers, or written statements.
2.3 Scientific Inquiry: Scientific inquiry is a process used to explore the natural world using evidence from observations.
2.3S.1 Observe, measure, and record properties of objects and substances using simple tools to gather data and extend the senses.
2.4 Engineering Design: Engineering design is a process used to design and build things to solve problems or address needs.
2.4D.1 Use tools to construct a simple designed structure out of common objects and materials.
2.4D.2 Work with a team to complete a designed structure that can be shared with others.
2.4D.3 Describe an engineering design that is used to solve a problem or address a need.
Equipment &Consumable Materials:
5 Large mixing bowls
35 Small containers (optional)
5 Large mixing spoons
Medium Bouncy Balls
Ping Pong Balls
100 ct. Sandwich bags
Prep Time: 1 hour to do the shopping for the ingredients. An hour and a half to measure out ingredients for each group. 1 hour to type out recipe and materials list and make copies. 30 minutes to make flour/salt mix and put in 5 shoeboxes. 4 hours.
About 45 minutes for students to mix dough, create asteroids, and then to draw and label their asteroid. 5 to 10 minute wrap-up. 50 to 55 minutes.
About 30 minutes for students to do Magic School Bus Activity. 5-10 minute wrap-up. 35 to 40 minutes.
Clean up Time: For edible asteroids, as much time it takes for students to put their asteroid in the baggie, take materials to the front, and wash out bowls and spoons in the sink. Probably about 15 minutes.
For the magic school bus activity, about 5 minutes. Collect balls and put lids on the shoeboxes.
Students learn through lecture the differences between asteroids, meteors, and comets. Look at composition, where they are located, etc.
Students close their eyes and imagine an asteroid in space. This is their new discovery!
As scientists, students must work together and individually to build a 3-D model of the asteroid.
Students get into groups, mix dough (following the recipe), and allocate a ball of dough for each student.
Students will add different foods to their dough to represent different minerals.
Students must draw and label the asteroid to show the different parts for “other” scientists. Then they must come up with a name. Extension: Children create a story around their asteroid.
The next day students will re-visit the idea of asteroids, meteors, and comets. Will look at how they make craters upon impact. Show pictures of craters on earth, moon, etc.
Students get in groups and explore the impact of craters using balls and shoeboxes filled with flour, salt, and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
First, students crouch and drop different sized balls. Then they stand and drop from shoulder-height.
Class comes back together and talks about their observations and hypothesis.
Each child must complete a 3-D model of an asteroid, along with their drawing. Each drawing must include labels of minerals and craters, and a name for the crater.
(Links | Questions)
Comets, asteroids, and meteors are often grouped together since they are all basically the same thing: small pieces of rock and/or ice that aren't part of a major planet.
Comets are objects composed mostly of ice and dust that grow tails when they approach the sun. All comets have a nucleus, which is the hard rock/ice object. When a comet nucleus nears the sun, solar energy begins to heat the ice and vaporize it. The gas flies off the comet, sometimes violently enough to break the nucleus apart, and throws dust up with it. The gases form a cloud around the nucleus called the coma. Some of the gas is stripped of electrons and blown back by the solar wind. This forms a bluish colored ion tail. The dust particles are pushed away from the comet by solar radiation, forming a dust tail that can be many millions of miles long. The dust tail is the easiest to see with the unaided eye, but occasionally the ion tail is visible as well. Each time a comet passes close to the sun, it loses more of its ice. Eventually, after many passes, the comet may no longer have enough material to form tails. Its surface will be covered by dark dust and it will look more like an asteroid.
Comets come from two places in the Solar System: the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt. The Oort Cloud is a spherical halo of comets surrounding the Solar System at a distance of around 50,000 Astronomical Units. (One Astronomical Unit equals the distance from Earth to the Sun.) Comets from the Oort Cloud have long orbital periods and can enter the solar system from many different directions. The Kuiper Belt is a ring of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune (30-100 AU). It lies (more or less) in the plane of the solar system and is a reservoir for the short period comets that we see. The first Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) were discovered in the early 90s, and they captured the interest of astronomers because they are probably the oldest, most pristine material in the solar system. Studying KBOs is difficult because they are distant and very small, but more have been discovered over the last few years as telescope and instrument technologies have improved. Astronomers now know of a few hundred KBOs, including a large object called Quaoar which is half the size of Pluto. Quaoar is the largest solar system object discovered since Pluto and Charon, and it reinforces the idea that there might be other large KBOs that are still undiscovered.
Asteroids are the small rocky objects in the Solar System. The largest asteroid is Ceres, which is 933 kilometers (580 miles) across. The smallest asteroids that we've observed in detail are only tens of meters in size, but there are probably a great number of small rocks in space that are currently too small for us to detect. Many asteroids, including all of the largest asteroids, orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter in the Asteroid Belt. The Trojan asteroids share Jupiter's orbital path, but stay 60 degrees ahead or behind Jupiter. Near-Earth Asteroids orbit the sun in the vicinity of the rocky terrestrial planets and pose the greatest threat to Earth. We think that the total mass of all the asteroids combined is less than that of the Moon.
The asteroid population is amazingly diverse - each one seems different! Some asteroids such as Mathilde are very light and are probably "rubble piles" made up of lots of small particles loosely held together. Other asteroids are metallic (for example Kleopatra) or pieces of solid rock (Eros, visited by the NEAR spacecraft, is an example) . Sometimes asteroids have small moons or travel in equal-sized pairs. Most asteroids have unusual shapes because they have experienced many collisions and do not have a strong enough gravity to pull themselves back into a sphere. Asteroids are not visible to the unaided eye, but some can be seen with small telescopes or even binoculars.