Rocks & Minerals

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Science Process Skills Center

Title: How are these rocks/minerals alike and different?

Basic Science Process Skills:
  1. Observation – Students will use their five senses to observe the characteristics of rocks
  2. Classifying – Students will group and sort the rocks according to their color and properties
  3. Recording Data – Students will write down their observations they make about how they
chose to classify the rocks
4. Comparing and Contrasting – Students will make observations of the rocks similarities
and differences in order to sort them correctly

NC Standard Course of Study 4th Grade:

Competency Goal 2: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the composition and uses of rocks and minerals.

2.01 Describe and evaluate the properties of several minerals.
2.02 Recognize that minerals have a definite chemical composition and
structure, resulting in specific physical properties including:
· Hardness.
· Streak color.
· Luster.
· Magnetism.
2.04 Show that different rocks have different properties.

  • Rock/Mineral Color Grouping Handout
  • Many different types of rocks/minerals

Center Description:
This center will be used to help students in their understanding of classifying different rocks and minerals. You will need to have at least four different types of rocks and minerals for students to observe at this center. Students will be provided with a brief handout of rock and mineral characteristics for them to easily sort the rocks. The students will also need to recognize differences and similarities in the rock collection. The center should be set up with a bucket of rocks/mineral, the description handout, and the center card that will provide directions for the students to follow in this center.

Card: How would you sort these rocks and minerals? Describe how they are
alike and different.

*Observe the different rocks in the bucket and compare their similarities and differences. There is a handout at the center with brief descriptions of some common rocks/minerals that may help you classify the different rock types if you are interested in knowing their name.

Color Grouping Rock & Mineral Example

black, brown-black, dark gray, gray
biotite mica, diopside, fluororichterite, hornblende
sky/turquoise/pale/steel/deep blue
azurite, celestite, kyanite, labradorite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, turquoise
turquoise/moss/lime green
amazonite feldspar, apatite, bloodstone, emerald, epidote, fluorite, grossular garnet, jade, malachit
yellow, orange, brown, beige
barite rose, calcite, cancrinite, celestite, jasper, siderite, sphalerite, sulfur
white, beige, dirty/snow white
calcite, gypsum, muscovite mica, quartz, stilbite, talc
peacock feathers, rainbow
bornite, peacock ore
barite, quartz, rock crystal, selenite
silver, silvery-yellow, silvery-gray, bright silver, dark silver, black
antimony, galena, manganite, silver
bronze, copper, copper0red
chalcopyrite, nickel ore
gold, golden-yellow
gold, pyrite


Engagement/Explore Activity for 5E Lesson Paln: Sort rocks and minerals into two categories

rocks_1.jpgAllow students to observe different types of rocks and minerals. (hands-on)

rocks_002.jpgAsk student to begin thinking about ways the rocks and minerals can be sorted or classified.

rocks_003.jpgAsk students to sort the rocks and minerals. Have then explain whay they chose to sort them the
way they did. Ways to sort are by color, clevage, rock, mineral, texture...

rocks_004.jpgAfter sorting give students sticky notes to make number the rocks and ask them to make
observations and predictions about the rocks/minerals hardness.

rocks_005.jpgAllow students to explore and observe the rocks completely to assist them in making better
predictions about their hardness.

rocks_006.jpgHave students sort the rocks and minerals into individual trays with their sticky notes to label each
tray 1-4. They sticky notes shouls contain their prediction and observation of the rock or mineral using their five senses.

rocks_007.jpgHave students test the hardness of each rock and mineral by doing a scratch test. The scratch test should be performed on each rock or mineral and should be done with a penny, paper clip, and finger nail. The purpose is to see which object can scratch or make a permanent mark on the rock or mineral to see which one is the hardest of the four.

Thematic Unit Rocks and Minerals
Grade Level Appropriateness: Primary-2
Focus: Students will expand their knowledge of rocks by exploring the characteristics of local rocks.
1. Know the physical characteristics of local rocks.
2. Identify and compare local rocks.
3.Describe pet rocks using creative means.
4. Observe the growth and change of crystals grown in the classroom.
Initiating Activity
Introduce the Class Rock Collecting Project by reading Rock Collecting by Roma Gans. Discuss rock collecting and general types of rocks with the students. Discuss where rocks are found. Tell the students to bring one rock to class.
General Activities:
1. Rock Tumbling.
2. Jewelry Making with pebbles, stones and small rocks.
3. Make musical shakers for rhythm and rock band activity.
4. Create cement hand impressions.
5. Chalk drawings with limestone.
6. Rock Estimation Jar.(Fill a jar with rocks and have the students guess how many rocks are inside.)
7. Play hopscotch.
8. Play bingo using pebbles as bingo chips.
9. Layer Cake Rocks. Eyewitness Explorer’s Rocks and Minerals page 29 .
10. Make a checkerboard game using painted rocks.
11. Make Rock Candy.
Literature Specific - Math Lesson
Preparation for Activity:
1. Make a chart indicating the names and pictures of rocks found locally.
2. Create 6 evaluation stations equip with a measuring scale, ruler and a cup half filled with water.
3. Prepare a "Rock Data" worksheet to be completed by each student. Include the following questions:
What type of rock is it? What color is the rock? What is the length of the rock? What is the width of the rock? Describe the texture of the rock. Where did you find the rock? Did you see any other rocks? If so, where? 4. Prepare a worksheet to be completed by the group of students. Include the following questions: How many different types of rocks are in your group? List the different types of rocks from your group selection. Which rock is the heaviest? Lightest? Shortest? Longest? Do all the rocks have the same texture?
1. Read "Let’s Go Rock Collecting" by Roma Gans. Discuss the purpose of the Class Rock Collecting Project. Discuss the different types of rock found locally.
2. Assign groups of 3 or 4 students to each station.
3. Students will complete the worksheet individually.
4. Students will use the information from the "Rock Data" worksheet to compare answers and complete a group worksheet.
5. Students will place their rocks in the egg cartons housing the rock collection.
Discussion Questions:
1. Where are rocks found?
2. How many types of rocks did you find?
3. Which type of rock is the heaviest? Lightest?
Literature Specific - Art Activity Making Pet Rocks
Gather all craft resources such as glue, scissors, paint, plastic eyes, markers, pipe cleaners, stickers.
1. Read A Rumbly Tumbly Glittery Gritty Place by Mary Lyn Ray and/or My Ol’ Man by Patricia Polacco. Discuss where rocks are found. Review the different types of rocks and their unique characteristics.
2. Allow students to create their own pet using their rocks.
3. Have a show and tell session /pet show.
Literature Specific Activity - Creative Writing with Pet Rocks
1. Read Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. Discuss the uniqueness each creature , i.e. the student’s pet rocks.
2. Review the characteristics of a good paragraph and adjectives.
3. Instruct the students to write a one paragraph description about their pet rock. For older students, instruct them to write a poem about their pet rock.
4. Ask the students to read aloud their descriptions.
5. Display the pets and paragraphs.

Rocks & Minerals Detective!
Several local geologists found out that we are studying Our Changing Earth and Rocks and Minerals and have asked for our help. They would like us to help them by becoming rocks and minerals detectives. Our job will be to collect clues about rocks and minerals that are used in our area and to share our findings with the community in the form of a multimedia presentation.

The Task
Your group will use the Internet and other resources to collect clues about rocks and minerals and how they are used. You will gather multimedia information to share with the other members of your group. Your group will have a short debriefing session when you are finished with your search. As a group, you will be looking for the answers to these questions:
  • What are minerals?
  • What are the physical characteristics of your assigned mineral?
  • Where is your assigned mineral found as a natural resource?
  • How is your assigned mineral used once it is mined from the earth?
  • What are the three different types of rocks and how are they formed?
  • What type of rock is your assigned mineral associated with?
This information will then be organized by your group into a multimedia presentation using KidPix. Your group will then be ready to share the findings of your detective work with the community.
The Process
1. You will be assigned to groups of three. Each group member will hold one of these positions:
  • Mineral Detective - This person will find out what a mineral is and the specific characteristics of your assigned mineral.
  • Locator Detective - This person will find out what your assigned mineral is found in nature and how your assigned mineral is used once it is mined from the earth.
  • Rock Detective - This person will find out what the three different types of rocks are and how they are formed.

2. Once you've decided who will complete each job, you will begin your detective work using the Internet and other resources that are found in the Resources section. You will need to go to the resource and read through the information presented, thinking about what you are reading. Make sure you think about your goals as a detective and what you need to find out about rocks and minerals.

3. You will need to save any information you want to use later in your folder on the computer. Remember to copy and paste text into a word processor if you would like to use it as a reference. And if you find an interesting picture, right click on the picture and "Save image as" into your folder on the computer. Go here you need a reminder on how to save text, pictures, or sound.

4. When you have looked through all the information, read through all your notes and decide what is the most important information that solves your detective work. Meet with your group for your detective debriefing session. Remember that you are responsible for teaching and sharing your information to the other members of your group.

5. As a group, organize your information for a KidPix slideshow using a storyboard. You will need to create at least one slide to answer each question.

6. Use the storyboard to guide your group as you create your KidPix slideshow sharing you detective work.

7. When your group has finished your slideshow, find someone you can present it to. Practice giving your presentation several times. Take suggestions from your practice partners and edit your slideshow as needed.

8. Finally, you will present the slideshow of your detective work to different classes throughout the school.
You will be evaluated on several things in this activity. First, you will be graded on the quality of information you gathered about your mineral. Next, you will be graded on the technical elements of you slideshow, including grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You will also be assessed on the quality of you cooperative group work as you gathered, organized, and presented your information. Lastly, you will be evaluated on the quality of your oral presentation as you share your findings with the community. Go here to view the scoring rubric.
You have now successfully located the physical characteristics of your assigned mineral and where that mineral is found as a natural resource. You have also located clues that tell others how that mineral are used once it is mined from the earth and the type of rock that mineral is associated with.

Nonfiction Resources:
Barnes-Svarney, Patricia L. 1991. Born of Heat and Pressure : Mountains and Metamorphic Rocks. Enslow Publishers, Inc. New Jersey.
Cheney, Glenn Alan. 1985. Mineral Resources. Franklin Watts. New York.
Dineem, Jacqueline. 1988. Metals and Minerals. Enslow Publishers, Inc. New Jersey.
Gans, Roma. 1984. Rock Collecting. Illus. Holly Keller. HarperCollins Publishers. New York.
Gans, Roma. 1997. Let’s Go Rock Collecting. Illus. Holly Keller. HarperCollins Publishers. New York.
Hoban, Tana. 1995. Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral? Greenwillow Books. New York.
Hunt, Joyce and Millicent E. Selsam. 1984. A First Look at Rocks. Illus. Harriett Springer. Walker and Company. New York.
Kerrod, Robin. 1994. The World’s Mineral Resources. Thomson Learning. New York.
Parker, Steve. 1993. Eyewitness Explorer’s Rocks and Minerals. Dorling Kindersley. London.
Symes, Dr. R.F. and the staff of the Natural History Museum of London. 1988. Eyewitness Books Rocks and Minerals. Alfred A. Knopf. New York.

Fiction Resources:
Brown, Marcia. 1947. Stone Soup. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York.
Kaufman, Jeff. 1994. Milk Rock. Henry Holt and Company, Inc. New York.
Polacco, Patricia. 1995. My Ol’ Man. Philomel Books. New York.
Ray, Mary Lyn. 1993. A Rumbly Tumbly Glittery Gritty Place. Illus. Dougles Florian. Harcourt & Brace Company. New York.
Steig, William. 1969. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Prentice-Hall Books for Young Readers. New York.

Encyclopedia Resources:
Childcraft: The How and Why Library. 1991. World Book, Inc. Chicago. Volume 4: World and Space.
Collier’s Encyclopedia. 1994. Collier. New York. Volume 20.
Encyclopedia Americana. 1996. Grollier, Inc. Connecticut. Volume 23.
The World Book Encyclopedia. 1996. World Book, Inc. Chicago. Volume 16.

Internet Resources:
Bill Nye the Science Guy
Bob’s Rock Shop
Discovery Channel School Programs: Volcanoes…understanding/volcanoes/index.html
Geoprime Minerals & Earth Materials Company
The Irving Family Web Pages: Rock Collecting
The Mineral Gallery
Minerals by Name
Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection
Volcano World

Audio Visual Resources:
Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Discovery Channel School: Volcanoes.
Magic School Bus Explores the Earth.

Field Trips:
Discovery Place 1-704-372-0471 301 North Tryon Street, Charlotte North Carolina 28208-2138
Ghost Town in the Sky 1-704-926-1140 890 Soco Road, Maggie Valley North Carolina 28751-9667
Mint Museum of Art, 1-704-337-2037 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte North Carolina. 28207-2031

Teacher Background Knowledge:
Books: The Rock Family and Rocks hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough (rock cycle)
-Minerals can be made of rock, but rock can not be made of minerals
-Moh's Hardness Scale
Hardness is measured on the Mohs Scale, identified numerically hardness of by standard minerals, from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest):
  1. Talc
  2. Gypsum
  3. Clacite
  4. Fluorite
  5. Apatite
  6. Orthoclase
  7. Quartz
  8. Topaz
  9. Corundum
  10. Diamond
A mineral of a given hardenss will scratch a mineral of a lower number. With a systematic approach, you can use minerals of known hardness to determine the relative hardness of any other mineral.

Student Prior Knowledge: Students must have prior knowledge of atoms, elements, compounds, and molecules.

1. Mineral-substances found on earth's (naturally occuring) crust, all one same substance (repeating pattern)
2. Rock-made up of combinations of minerals
3. Metamorphic Rock-rocks that get transformed by temperature and pressure
4. Sedimentary Rock-pieces of sediment or other rocks and animal shells
5. Igneous Rock-made from lava, put under pressure and stick together
6. Atom-smallest particle with the characteristics of that substance
7. Molecule-More than one atom joined together
8. Element-Made of atoms
9.Compound-More than one atom joined together, usually more than one kind
10. Clevage-The tendency of crystals, certain minerals, rocks, etc., to break in preferred directions so as to yield more or less smooth
11. Geologists-A person who studies the scientific study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth

The Rock Cycle is a group of changes. Igneous rock can change into sedimentary rock or into metamorphic rock. Sedimentary rock can change into metamorphic rock or into igneous rock. Metamorphic rock can change into igneous or sedimentary rock.
Igneous rock forms when magma cools and makes crystals. Magma is a hot liquid made of melted minerals. The minerals can form crystals when they cool. Igneous rock can form underground, where the magma cools slowly. Or, igneous rock can form above ground, where the magma cools quickly.
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When it pours out on Earth's surface, magma is called lava. Yes, the same liquid rock matter that you see coming out of volcanoes.
On Earth's surface, wind and water can break rock into pieces. They can also carry rock pieces to another place. Usually, the rock pieces, called sediments, drop from the wind or water to make a layer. The layer can be buried under other layers of sediments. After a long time the sediments can be cemented together to make sedimentary rock. In this way, igneous rock can become sedimentary rock.
All rock can be heated. But where does the heat come from? Inside Earth there is heat from pressure (push your hands together very hard and feel the heat). There is heat from friction (rub your hands together and feel the heat). There is also heat from radioactive decay (the process that gives us nuclear power plants that make electricity).
So, what does the heat do to the rock? It bakes the rock.
Baked rock does not melt, but it does change. It forms crystals. If it has crystals already, it forms larger crystals. Because this rock changes, it is called metamorphic. Remember that a caterpillar changes to become a butterfly. That change is called metamorphosis. Metamorphosis can occur in rock when they are heated to 300 to 700 degrees Celsius.
When Earth's tectonic plates move around, they produce heat. When they collide, they build mountains and metamorphose (met-ah-MORE-foes) the rock.
The rock cycle continues. Mountains made of metamorphic rocks can be broken up and washed away by streams. New sediments from these mountains can make new sedimentary rock.
The rock cycle never stops.

Safety Precautions
-Use safety goggles when appropriate
-Keep chemicals away from materials when using them and when storing
-Always deomstrate to students first and then allow them to participate
-An eye-washing station or sink for cleansing eyes should be available at all times during the investigation
-No food or drink present during the activity
-A fire extinguisher should be present in case of an emergency
-Materials should be properly disposed of

Questions We Still Have About Rocks & Minerals.
1) Can the hardness of a rock ever change?
2) When did geologists actually begin studying rocks?
3) Has there always been such a large variety of rocks & minerals?
4) Other than rocks, what other substances make up minerals?
5) What type of rock breaks down the fastest?