For the second week in a row, we had snow on Tuesday! We’re so glad for the water, but our Chama Elementary and Tierra Amarilla Elementary students were again disappointed that we couldn’t go outside for our geology hike.
Since we couldn’t take our students to the rocks, we brought the rocks to our students!
We began by reviewing the three main types of rocks. Students guessed as to what each type could look like. We made a chart with columns for each factor that students felt could help in identification. The last column was their guess as to the type of rock. We also reviewed subjective and objective observations. Students had to include at least one subjective observation and at least one objective observation.
Most students worked in groups, although a few chose to work independently. Each group got through about 15 rocks, and by the end of the exercise, everybody was doing a great job at identifying whether a rock sample was igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic.
After becoming pros at identifying rocks, we moved on to learn about the Law of Superposition. Next time we talk about this, somebody remind me to bring a layer cake.
Utah Education Network has a fantastic activity for helping kids understand how geologists use rocks to piece together the story of Earth’s history. Our students began by trying to put the “nonsense cards,” which just have seemingly random letters on them, in some kind of order.
We didn’t give our students much information about this, aside from asking them to put the cards in some kind of order. Initially almost everybody tried alphabetical order.
Finally, with a few hints, everybody got it. If the letters represent rock layers, two layers that have the same kind of rock must belong next to each other. Students were also able to use the Law of Superposition to explain which rock layer must be the oldest.
After everybody had discovered the pattern, we played the game again with different cards. This time the cards had different fossils on them. Students again put the cards in order based on the fossils found in each “layer”.
This version of the activity is much more like what geologists do. Their job is to solve the puzzle of what’s happened on Earth in the past.
By the end of this class, all of our students had the same opinion…. geology rocks!