Angles and Area

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In this activity (page 10 of PDF), learners approximate the area of the uppermost cross section of an impact crater using a variety of square grids. They conclude which angle of impact results in the greatest area. There are two versions of this activity: Challenge, where students construct a launcher and create their own craters; and Non-Challenge where students analyze pictures of craters. Includes a pre-lesson activity (p54). The Moon Math: Craters! guide follows a 5E approach, applying concepts of geometry, modeling, data analysis to the NASA lunar spacecraft mission, LCROSS.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Shallow pan
  • Soil-like substance
  • Spherical projectile (description p6 of guide)
  • Launching device (guidelines p5-6 of guide)
  • Bed sheet (or other drape for spreading on the floor under the pan of soil)
  • Transparencies of 3 different square grids: 2 cm x 2 cm, 1 cm x 1 cm, 1/2 x 1/2 cm (templates on pp. 41-43 of PDF)
  • Tape
  • Wet erase markers (1 light, 1 dark)
  • Approximating Area Pre-lesson Activity student worksheet (p. 54 of PDF)
  • Activity B – Crater Area student worksheet (p. 55 of PDF)
  • Non-Challenge Version -- Activity A – Impact Crater Images (p. 52 of PDF)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Solar System
      • The Moon
      • Asteroids and Comets
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
      • Circles
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • NASA


  • Public domain, ,