WHITEHALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Shared Learning Objectives
||Whitehall Central School
||Marilyn Borden & John A. Mead
||Visitors from Space! Searching for Micrometeorites.
||John A. Mead
|Home Page Address:
VISITORS FROM SPACE!
SEARCHING FOR MICROMETEORITES.
Most students interests have been piqued by the recent movies
of impending doom and gloom from space, such as "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon".
The fact is that the Earth is under a constant bombardment of cosmic debris.
The vast majority of these "visitors from space" are very small. These particles,
not big enough to be called meteorites, are known as
micrometeorites or interplanetary dust particles.
Estimates of 50 to 100 tons of micrometeorites fall to the
earth's surface each day.
Since most meteoric
material contain traces of iron, a strong magnet can attract these particles.
Not every piece of magnetic material is of an extraterrestrial origin.
In fact, the majority of what the student will collect will be terrestrial
in origin. The mineral magnetite is quite common and remains of iron
artifacts, such as rusted pieces of tin cans, sheet metal and cars are even
more prevalent. Make sure that you stress the point that their material MAY
be meteoric. The only positive way to determine if the material is extraterrestrial,
would be to have it analyzed at a laboratory facility.
A few samples or pictures of meteorites will help students identify their samples.
Once the student gets an idea as to what meteorites look like, they can reduce
the scale to micrometeorites. Most flat shaped metallic material originated from
sheet metal (cans, cars, etc.) and shiny bright metallic pieces could be magnetite,
but those pieces that are rounded, oxidized, looking somewhat like a larger specimen
of a meteorite, well, you never know!
It is very easy to stimulate students into a discussion on this topic.
It is even easier to get the students involved in a lab.
It is not uncommon for students to go home after the lab and search the
neighborhood, using a magnet from their refrigerator.
Even with all the " maybe", "it could be" and "it's possible" answers you give to the
students questions, it is hard to contain their excitement when they think that
they found one, or two, or three...
The student will:
- collect soil samples as required by the lab.
- collect magnetic material from the soil sample.
- identify magnetic material to the best of their ability.
- mount and display possible meteoric material found.
- demonstrate their comprehension using writing and oral presentations.
The time required for this lab and discussion is 40 minutes.
- Dry Soil Sample
- Magnifying Glass and/or Microscope
- Index Card and/or Glass Microscope Slide
- White Glue
- Have students collect soil samples from areas that
increase the chances of finding micrometeorites. This can be done in advance
by having students collect samples from home or by having the students collect
it during the lab period.
- Using a magnet, have students search the soil for anything magnetic
(stir up the soil).
- Remove the magnetic material from the magnet and place it on a piece of
paper. Sort through the material and select likely looking micrometeorites.
Examine the particles with the magnifying glass or microscope.
- Have students identify the particles. Remind the students that there are
many terrestrial sources of iron, too.
- On an index card or glass slide, spread a thin layer of glue and while it
is still wet, place the selected magnetic material on the glued card or slide.
By using an index card or other card stock, the student may take home
- Have students present their findings. This can be oral, written, poster
presentation, library research or any other form that you may want to cover.
This lab is easy to modify for most any grade level. The lab presented is
geared for fifth grade, but I have used it in second, third and ninth grades.
You may provide the soil sample if there are any students that can not provide
one, perhaps, due to a handicap. For more advanced classes, enrichment classes or
extra credit work, students could design a collection system (see
Curriculum Standards referenced:
MATH, SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY STANDARDS
MST Standard #1 - Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry and
engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers and develop
- Students will use scientific inquiry to explain how and why the magnetic
samples may be terrestrial or extraterrestrial in origin.
MST Standard #2 - Students will access, generate, process and transfer
information using appropriate technologies.
- Students will gather information on meteorites and related subjects and
process that information into a report.
MST Standard #4 - Students will understand and apply scientific concepts,
principles and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment
and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.
- Students will apply the principle of magnetism to collect samples.
- Students will apply their knowledge of surface area to maximize their
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS STANDARDS
ELA Standard #1 - Students will read, write, listen and speak for information
- Students will read and listen to acquire information that they will need
to successfully complete this lab.
- Students shall write and speak to transfer the information that they
ELA Standard #3 - Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical
analysis and evaluation.
- Students will be able to analyze and evaluate the information presented
to them using their knowledge of scientific concepts.
- Observation of the lab activity.
- Successful completion of the lab activity. The student would have produced
a card or slide to display the specimens.
- Successfully transfer information to fellow students in the form of
an oral and/or poster presentation.
- Successfully transfer information to teacher in the form of written answers
to questions, research papers, projects.
LINKS to related sites.
Send questions, comments, etc. to
John A. Mead (firstname.lastname@example.org)