Overview of Section Resources

Section 1: Mineral Properties
Students learn the definition of property and learn about the mineral properties hardness, color, luster, cleavage, and streak. They test these properties for several common minerals, and classify the mineral samples by properties. Students analyze data by identifying mineral names and looking up their properties on a chart.
Section 2: Rocks
To introduce the study of how rocks form and change, students use magnifiers to observe specimens of a rock (granite) and the minerals it contains (feldspar, quartz, and mica). They then observe a variety of rock samples from home. Students learn that the three basic rock classifications, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, describe how a rock was formed.
Section 3: Igneous Rocks
Students learn that igneous rocks form when melted rock cools. They observe different kinds of igneous rocks, and learn that their different textures are a result of how quickly or slowly they cooled. Students then observe an edible model that demonstrates how cooling rate affects rock texture.
Section 4: Sedimentary Rocks
Students learn that sediments are small pieces of rock material. The teacher uses the Sedimentator model to demonstrate how sediment settles in water. Students learn that sedimentary rock is made of sediments that have been squeezed and cemented together. They then observe and describe samples of sedimentary rock.
Section 5: Metamorphic Rocks and the Rock Cycle
Students learn how intense heat and pressure can change rock deep in the Earth. They compare metamorphic rocks to the rocks from which they were formed. Students model metamorphic processes by applying heat and pressure to clay. Then they create a display on the rock cycle.
Section 6: Edible Earth
This section contains optional cooking activities. The class can make popcorn balls to model compaction and cementation in conglomerates; take core samples from a multicolored cake and create a geologic map; do research on earthquake faults; and create sedimentary sandwiches to model faults.
Section 7: Weathering Changes Rocks
This section introduces weathering as the process that breaks down rock and forms sediments. Students observe the chemical weathering of chalk, limestone, and marble. They then observe the physical weathering of chalk by table salt. At home, students freeze liquids in containers to observe how ice can cause the physical weathering of rocks.
Section 8: Erosion Changes Earth
Students observe the processes of erosion and deposition by modeling rain falling on a hillside. They time the speed of running water on the model hillside, relate the steepness of a slope to the amount of erosion, and observe that when running water slows down, it deposits sediments.