In this activity, learners model ancient lunar impacts using water balloons. By measuring the diameter of the crater area, learners discover that the Moon's largest impact basins were created by huge asteroids! Like these huge asteroids, the water balloons are destroyed on impact and leave a splash (i.e. a "crater") that is 10 to 20 times wider than the impactor. Learners find the impact basins--the Moon's largest features--on a map and consider how they have changed since they first formed to become the dark patches ("maria") on the Moon's face. Learners may examine a type of Earth rock (named breccia) that is also found on the Moon and that would have been shaped by the processes explored here.
This activity station is part of a sequence of stations that can be set up to help learners trace the Moon's 4.5-billion-year history from "infancy" to the imagined future. Learners tie together major events in the Moon's geologic history as a series of comic panels in their Marvel Moon comic books.