In a couple of days, a large meteor will pass between the Earth and the Moon’s orbit. The Asteroid named 2005 YU55 is 400 meters long and at its closest point will pass 325,000 kilometers from the Earth traveling 13 km/s (30,000 mph).
The Impact Earth website allows you to calculate the impact of various asteroids if they were to hit the Earth. In this case if the YU55 did hit Earth we could expect the equivalent of 8.49 x 1018 Joules = 2.03 x 103 Megatons TNT or a 6.8 size earthquake. If it hit the deep ocean, 45-meter Tsunami waves between 2.3 meters (7.6 feet) and 45.7 meters (150 feet) would be expected. But you will be happy to know that the average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth during the last 4 billion years is 1.1 x 105years (and if you need a brush up on your scientific notation, just move the decimal point five space to the right so it is 110,000 years). And just to be precise about the vocabulary, when it is traveling in our solar system it is an asteroid, but when it crashes through our atmosphere and breaks up into pieces that hit the Earth, they become meteorites.
It is interesting to use Impact Earth to see the effects of various size asteroids on the Earth. Indeed, student exploration will allow them to realize some of the parameters that will affect the collision including speed, density of asteroid, and angle of impact. The Impact Earth calculator is a good start but it leaves me a bit flat. No matter what size Asteroid, the impact animation is always the same. The depicted size of the asteroid should resemble the number that was entered. But the data are useful, and students could ask and answer many questions about asteroid impact, producing deeper asteroid understanding and inquiry skills.