Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Why are there craters on the moon?

Help young children discover why there are craters on the moon with this simple science experiment--great for science fairs


Big Brother had his first science fair this past week! He is still very interested in learning about outer space, so he chose (with a little direction) to do his science fair project answering the question, “Why are there craters on the moon?”


We created this poster detailing a simplified version of the scientific process.



We even made a “puffy moon” using shaving cream and glue!




Finally, we completed a simple experiment to illustrate the impact of a crater. This post was inspired by this idea from Fumbling through Parenthood. Instead of using the “moon sand”, I found that “cloud dough” held the shape of the “meteors” much more effectively.

Here is what you’ll need for this demonstration:  

4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of baby oil
small pebbles or rocks
Round cake pan



(Don’t mind the specks of black in our “moon dough”. I attempted to color it using black liquid watercolor. Obviously, it didn’t work.)  :)



Have your child(ren) drop the pebbles onto the pan.



Observe the “craters” left by the pebbles.


We also talked about how the moon is more susceptible to craters from space rocks than Earth. Earth’s atmosphere will burn most meteorites and asteroids before they come in contact with Earth’s surface. The moon, however, does not have an atmosphere to protect it!


the moon

The Moon by Seymour Simon




What is your favorite science fair experiment???





  1. This is a great activity! Although terminology-wise, a meteoroid is a rock in space, a meteor is a rock entering the atmosphere, and a meteorite is a rock found on Earth’s surface.

  2. Do you know if other types of oil could be used? I don’t have any baby oil on hand and would rather not go out to buy some if it can be helped.

    1. You could try using melted coconut oil or even vegetable oil. I’m not sure the results would be identical but probably close enough! :) Let us know if you try it.

      1. It does not explain what the Oil is for? could you please tell me? do I mix it with the the flour and then put it in the cake pan? or do I drop, drops into the flour like the pebbles?

        Thank you

    1. No, but in the post you will see that I tried to add food coloring to it and it didn’t work…which is why it was speckled. :) If you want to dye it you will have to use an oil-based food dye.

  3. I teach a bunch of 5th graders astronomy lessons once a month and this is what I do on the second or third lesson. To make it a little more interesting I sprinkle some powdered chocolate over the flour so the larger impactors will make rays like Tycho. Plus this is just the fun and messy lessons anyone has got to enjoy

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