Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hands-on Ways to Learn about Rocks

As part of Sophia's and Olivia's multi-disciplinary geography curriculum, the girls are learning about the state rocks for each state in the United States.

One of the questions that the girls need to answer is "What type of rock is __________?" They've been hearing the terms "metamorphic rock" and "sedimentary rock," and I wanted them to do an activity that would give them a visual  idea what these terms mean.

Using Janice VanCleave's Earth Science For Every Kid, we did two activities. The first one was called "Crunch" and the purpose is to demonstrate the formation of metamorphic rocks.

I gave Sophia and Olivia each ten toothpicks and an encyclopedia. They were instructed to snap the toothpicks in half, but leave them connected.

Breaking Toothpicks

They piled the toothpicks on the table and then placed the encyclopedia on top of the toothpick pile.

Pressing Toothpicks Flat

They pressed down and removed the book. 

Metamorphic Rock Activity

What did this show? According to Earth Science for Every Kid, "The toothpicks flatten into layers under the pressure of the book. In nature, the weight of rocks at the surface pushes down on rock and dirt beneath, forcing them to flatten into layers. Rocks formed by great pressure are called metamorphic rock."

The second activity we did was called "Sedimentary Sandwich."  This activity demonstrated a sedimentary rock formation. (It also provided part of the girls' lunch.)

They each received one slice of bread that was cut in half. They were instructed to use the knife to spread a layer of peanut butter on the slice of bread.

Sedimentary Rock Activity

Then they added a layer of jelly on top of the peanut butter layer.

Spreading Jam - Layer 3

Then they placed the second slice of bread on top of the jelly layer and ate the sandwich.

Sedimentary Rock Demonstration
Showing four different layers (bread, peanut butter, jam, and bread).

While they were eating their sandwiches, we talked about how, according to Earth Science for Every Kid, "...sedimentary rocks are formed from loose particles that have been carried from one place to another and redeposited. These rocks usually are deposited in a series of layers similar to the layers in the sandwich."

The book continued, "Each layer can be distinguished by differences in color, texture, and composition. The oldest layer and lowest bed is deposited first and the youngest layer is at the top. The layers over a period of time become compacted and cemented together to form solid rock structures."


Gwen said...

There are some amazing demonstrations for geology teachers..such fun for kids. I used to teach science and had one or two fab ones up my sleeve.
This brngs back nice memories.
I have come away from your blog to comment, so I was going to say something else but I'll have to pop back

Gwen said...

Oh yes, I was going to say how enthralled those lovely girls are with their work:)

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Wow! Love the learning that took place with those lessons and the girls are beautiful! ~ thanks for coming by my blog ~ enjoy the week ~ ^_^

Rita said...

You come up with such interesting ways of teaching. :)