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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Out-of-This-World Geology

Just like rocks we find on Earth, scientists can learn about the geological history and composition of the moon by studying its rocks.

Celebrate the 54th anniversary of the first walk on the moon on July 20 with your very own rock investigation! Develop some scientific skills by exploring the types of rocks you might find near your home or at the park.


Materials Needed:

  • Notebook for observations
  • Pen or pencil
  • Rocks (that you will find)


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Take a walk through your yard or a local park to search for interesting rocks to collect.*
  2. Once you have collected a few rocks, sort them into groups based on their characteristics, such as color, shape, size and texture.
  3. Observe and describe each of your rocks. Write down descriptors like smooth, rough, shiny, dull, heavy or light.
  4. After taking notes about each rock, create an outdoor rock display by arranging your collection according to the properties you find most interesting, like size or shape.

    Want to make your display extra special? Try adding other natural materials, such as sticks or greenery.

*Only collect rocks from locations that allow it. Generally, most national parks do not allow rocks to be collected. However, it is often permitted in school yards and local parks. Remember that children should be supervised during rock collecting activities to ensure they do not pick up any dangerous materials.


What Are We Discovering?

When astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon, he touched moon rocks for the first time. Many moon rocks have been collected and brought back to Earth to be studied.

Further advancing our exploration of space, National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet electrographic camera. This camera uses ultraviolet light to study Earth's upper atmosphere, stars and gases in interstellar space. His invention is best known for its use in the Apollo 16 mission to the moon in 1972, examining our planet’s far outer atmosphere and deep space. Over 200 pictures were taken from the Apollo mission, providing the first global images and spectra of Earth’s far outer atmosphere, as well as images of stars, galaxies and interstellar gas.


Keep the Fun and Learning Going!

For more geological adventures, check out this rock-related activity. For a variety of at-home, hands-on STEM fun to try this summer, visit our blog.

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