Making Meteor Craters


Silas has started a project about space. Daddy has a deep love of space research, so kiddo comes by it honestly. He's been interested in space travel, planets, and the moon for quite awhile, but it's only been in the last month or so that we decided to do a project about it.

In all honesty, our last couple projects have either suffered from a lack of focus or fizzled out because I couldn't keep up with journaling and reflection in order to help guide us in productive directions. At just over 5, Silas isn't quite ready to take complete ownership of his projects yet. He still needs my help to remind him what his questions are and to help him seek out resources to find answers. This takes a lot of time and effort on my part and I'm still trying to find a system that works for us.


As I always do when we start a project, I asked him what he already knew about space and what he was curious about. His list of questions was so inspiring and insightful. The first was, "why do people want to know about space?" Heavy, right? So, we've been reading some biographies about people who study space to see where their passion comes from. We started with Copernicus (Copernicus, The Earth is a Planet by Fradin) and Galileo (I, Galileo by Christensen). We're still in a very sensitive stage, though, and the punishments those men received for challenging the church were really frightening for the kiddo. So, we jumped ahead to read about some astronauts: Neil Armstrong (Neil Armstrong, Young Flyer by Dunham) and Sally Ride (When I Grow Up: Sally Ride by Anderson), which were much better received. The current bedtime read is George's Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking and Silas loves it.


Other than that, we've just been doing an invitation to play here and there. Nothing too crazy. Today we set up a simulation of the creation of meteorite impact craters. A layer of white flour with a layer of chocolate cake mix sifted on top (to make the displaced "soil" visible) and dried beans thrown and dropped from all angles and heights and with varying speeds. It was fascinating to see how different the craters were when those variables were adjusted. Of course, making the biggest dust cloud became the ultimate goal.


When that exploration was finished, he then needed some space vehicles to explore his moon surface. So we raided the recycling bin to make some rockets and moon buggies.


It's silly, but I always struggle to control my impulse to buy for projects like this. I am committed to opting out of the consumerist lifestyle. My one weakness, though, are toys. I love to buy stuff for my kids and it takes effort to remind myself that stuff is not at all what they need. 


I'm so glad I resisted the urge because building our space vehicles together was so much more fun than buying a bunch of plastic toys.


And do you see that lunar rover taking soil samples? It doesn't get much cooler than that.


Theda and I sat nearby on a blanket, reading books and playing while Silas was fully engaged in his space exploration.


It didn't take long for the flour to explode everywhere. Thank goodness for a beautiful day and the opportunity to play outside.



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