When I was researching diamonds I was thinking how crazy it was that we can send a camera to photograph Pluto more than 4.5 billion miles away but we can’t dig a mere 100 miles into the earth to look for diamonds. Isn’t it interesting how accessible space is?!
Today’s installment of This Summer Rocks is about meteorites or rocks from space! A meteorite is a meteor or shooting star that survived its burning hot journey and impact with earth. They can be rock or metal or a combination of the two and sometimes even contain peridot gems! The neat thing about meteorites is that you can find them anywhere on earth, maybe even your own backyard.
Meteorites are most easily spotted in places where they stand out. So to increase our chances of finding one we grabbed some camels and headed to the desert.
First we stopped at Meteor Crater in Arizona where a HUGE meteor crashed into earth, vaporized on impact, and created a deep mile wide crater 50,000 years ago.
We decided to look for meteors in the White Sands National Monument desert in New Mexico. A meteorite should stand out in the pure white gypsum dunes. We looked and looked but we were getting thirsty so we went home.
The very next night we heard a thundering noise. We looked out the window and saw a flash of light. They we heard a bang and through a cloud of smoke saw a meterote in the middle of our yard! Can you believe it?!
We might have guessed something was up since we saw a panicked goose and a sly fox earlier.
We were planning to show our meteorite to a scientist who could help us learn more about it but in the morning it was gone.
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Did you know that meteorites can be as old or older than earth itself? Learn more about meteors and meteorites with real life footage of a meteor impact in Russia!
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If you are having trouble finding a meteorite why not make one? Scientific models are an excellent way to reinforce observations and concepts. We built ours with homemade meteorite play dough. The recipe is adapted from this recipe from Glittering Muffins. I’d also like to thank Valerie for her guidance since this was my first time making play dough. She has lots of play dough activities and recipes which you can find here. The best thing about this project is that space rocks come in so many irregular shapes and sizes you just can’t mess this up!
Meteorite Play Dough
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 tbsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp black food coloring or more for charred look (I mixed equal parts red, blue, and yellow)
- 2 tbsp silver glitter
- faceted craft beads
- Whisk flour, salt, and cream of tartar together in bowl
- Add oil, water, and food coloring, then stir until smooth
- Knead mixture on floured surface and add glitter
Then get visual inspiration from real meteorites. The shape could be aerodynamic. It could have fingerprint like pits suggesting shaping that took place during its hot and fast journey. It could be jagged from cracks and explosions. Find examples here.
Further reading (images are Amazon affiliate links)
HENNY PENNY told by Paul Galdone
A cumulative folktale about a chicken who thinks the sky is falling. I think Henny Penny might have seen a meteorite! What do you think?
HOW THE METEORITE GOT TO THE MUSEUM by Jessie Hartland
Learn about a meteor that actually landed in someone’s backyard in this story, part of a natural history series and also a cumulative tale!
Also in this series…