Overview of Section Resources

Section 1: What Is a Rock?
This module introduces students to materials that make up Earth's crust: rocks, soil, and fossils. Students begin by examining rock and mineral samples. They observe that rocks are made up of combinations of minerals, and that minerals can be identified by properties, including color, texture, and hardness.
Section 2: Edible Rocks
Students play the role of geologist by analyzing the properties of a model rock (a cookie). They measure the model rock and use a spring scale to find its mass. Then they break the rock apart and examine its mineral content: candy and fruit. Finally, they observe a real rock.
Section 3: Weathering and Erosion
Students investigate the processes of weathering and erosion. They rub two rocks together and observe how each weathers. Then they observe how moving water causes weathered material to erode. They also simulate how wind causes erosion.
Section 4: What Is Soil?
Students compare the properties of three kinds of soil: loam, humus, and clay, and of soil samples brought from home. They conclude that different soil types contain different materials. Students make their own soil by grinding up and mixing organic and inorganic material.
Section 5: Seeds, Soil, and Water
Students conduct controlled experiments over several weeks to find out which type of soil is best for growing plants. Students also test the properties of different soils with respect to water. From their tests, students discover that the best soil for plants contains a mixture of materials that provides nutrients and contains spaces for both water and air.
Section 6: Compost, Worms, and Soil
Students make compost from layers of soil and vegetable matter, with bits of plastic and metal (litter). They observe that organic materials break down while most litter does not. Next, students observe the structure and behavior of the earthworm, an important decomposer, and test how earthworms react to different environmental conditions.
Section 7: Fossils
Students observe and sort a variety of plant and animal fossils and record observations in a chart. Students learn how fossils form by making mold and cast fossils. Finally, students add pieces of fruit to layers of gelatin to simulate how fossils are trapped in layers of rock. From this model students infer that the oldest fossils are located in the deepest layers.