Impact Craters

(for ages 7+)


  • baking pan
  • flour
  • cocoa powder
  • sifter
  • kitchen scale
  • ruler
  • different sized balls (bouncy balls and/or marbles)
  • paper and pencils and/or crayons
  • drop cloths or newspapers to contain the mess

Prep Time:

  • 5 minutes

Recipe for Playful Learning!

Actively explore astronomy and math concepts as you learn about the Moon’s geography through hands-on inquiry and play!

STEP 1: Ask kids to think about what the Moon’s surface looks like. Tell them that many of the features we see on the Moon’s surface are “impact craters,” or holes formed when objects like asteroids or comets smashed into the lunar surface. Explain that today they will be making their own impact craters!

STEP 2: Pour flour in the bottom of the baking pan and spread it out to an even depth (about 1" deep). Then use the sifter to sprinkle just enough cocoa powder to cover the surface (less than 1/8" deep).

STEP 3: Ask your child to categorize each ball’s size (i.e., tiny, small, medium, large, extra-large) and record their size. Have your kids pick a height (maybe 1 yard) from which to drop the balls and record that height. All balls should be dropped from that height.

STEP 4: Have kids take turns dropping the different sized balls in the flour/cocoa powder mix, noting the results.

STEP 5: Together measure the diameter of the “impact craters” from each of the different sized balls and record the results.

STEP 6: Ask kids to document what their “lunar surface” looks like by drawing or coloring a picture of the impact craters they created.


To simplify, encourage children to have fun exploring how to create impact craters using the balls without worrying about recording measurements or results.

To add complexity, drop different sized balls from different heights or the same ball from different heights and see what happens. Kids can also toss the balls into the pan from different angles to see how the trajectory of the object would change the impact crater.

STEAM Focus: Science