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Meteorites disintegrate in the atmosphere every day. They are called shooting stars because they leave a luminous trail when they ignite at altitude. However, the meteorite that lit the sky over the Urals region of Russia on that beautiful morning of February 15 had nothing to do with our usual shooting stars!
However, the real threat in this case was the shockwave that shattered many windows, injuring hundreds of people, especially in the city of Chelyabinsk. In addition, fragments of its explosion made landfall and DAMAGED buildings.
At the present time, we are still assessing the injuries and the damage, and understanding how it all happened.
At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- summarize a short story in his own words;
- locate the Urals region, Russia, on a world map;
- explain the difference between a meteorite and an asteroid;
- say what really caused the damage and caused hundreds of injuries as a result of the meteor shower;
- compare the Urals meteorite with the asteroid which will graze the Earth today;
- understand that these events are not rare.
ACTIVITY 1: What exactly is going on?
The first activity is to learn about the news by consulting current sources.
Meteor shower in Russia: hundreds injured
Radio-Canada. Video report, links to amateur videos, photo gallery.
Russian meteorite: an exceptional event
Le Figaro. No meteorite has so far caused so many injuries at one time.
The asteroid 2012-DA 14, so close to Earth ...
The world. The event is both insignificant and exceptional.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 will graze the Earth this Friday
Le Figaro. This large pebble 45 m in diameter will skim the Earth so close that it will be possible to observe it with binoculars from 8:30 p.m.
Suggestions: group viewing, reading aloud, personal or small group reading followed by a summary to the rest of the class, etc.
Following this, invite the students to demonstrate their understanding by answering the following questions. If necessary, they can carry out additional research.
- Summarize in your own words what happened.
- Can you locate the Urals region in Russia on a world map?
- What is the difference between a meteorite and an asteroid?
- What really caused the damage and injured hundreds?
- What does the asteroid look like that will “graze” the Earth today?
- Are there often such objects brushing against the planet? Give examples.
ACTIVITY 2: Compare the two asteroids
Ask students, using information gathered during their research, to compare the meteorite that exploded near the ground in Russia and the one that grazed the Earth (2012 D14).
To do this, they could identify different characteristics and relate them using the diagram below.
Ex .: size of the object, speed of movement, provenance, possible damage if both had touched Earth, etc.
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)
ACTIVITY 3: Go back in time
Have there ever been impacts of asteroids on Earth in recent history? If so, what had happened?
Take a brief look back at the events of Tunguska, in Russia, in 1908.