Rocks and Minerals


Kerry Paige Teamey

Brooklyn Academy High School

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2011



Subject:  Regents Earth Science

Grade Level: 8 - 12

Unit 2: Rocks and Minerals

Duration:  5 Days

Aim:  How are rocks made naturally by the Earth?

Objectives: SWBAT


Vocabulary: Vocabulary is located on the Earth Science Reference Tables pages 6 and 7



·         Rice Krispies

·         Aluminum Pans

·         Butter

·         Marshmallows

·         Poster Board

·         Attachable Computer Microcam



Engage/ Explore (Day 1)

1)       set out minerals and have students create a list of how they would classify each mineral

2)       use gizmo to have student learn how to identify minerals (create an online account)

a.        Mineral Gizmo Website


Extend (homework assignment)

1)       mineral and rock notes  ( his homework should be due at the end of the week)

a.         Rock and Mineral Homework Worksheet Link

 (click on “rocks and minerals” and download worksheet to copy)



Engage/Explore (Day 2)

1)       Take students to computer lab or have them access the following website on laptops: 

a.        Rock Cycle visualization Website

observe classzone earth (computers) to go through the rock cycle with the students in order to make a natural connection to how rocks are produced.  Have students identify where each process of the rock cycle is occurring throughout the visualization. 

2)       Upon completion ask students to break into groups and explain how pre-existing rocks can become new types of rocks using the vocabulary from the rock cycle. 


Have students individually create a rock cycle board with OWN definitions or drawings.  It is important for students to leave spaces where the terms:  (metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks, and igneous rocks occur on the rock cycle)




Explore (Days 2-5)

Have students break into groups of two.  Explain to them that they will be creating a business proposal  in order to gain acceptance from the United States Geological Society board (this will be the teacher). 

a.        Show students the minerals they will be using to create rock samples (butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies) 

o         Have students draft a proposal on how they would use the minerals you have showed them to “create” each type of rock in the rock cycle.


Example: I will take the minerals “Rice Krispies and marshmallows” and weather and erode them by means of squishing them with books (in nature this can happen from wave action, wind, glaciers or running water).  I will then deposit the smaller sediments into a plastic bag and hammer the minerals with my hands (in nature depostion happens from the movement of wind, running water, or moving glaciers).  I will then add the mineral “butter” in order to aid the cementation process and bind Rice Krispies and marshmallows (in nature most sedimentary rock sediments are bound together from water and chemical precipitates).  I will then deposit each mineral in a new bag and compress them under a pile of books (in nature this happens from burial of sediments being deposited in layers above other sediments…)




In this image a student is demonstrating how her group is “compacting” sediments

through layered burial and deposition of classroom books






1)   When students have drafted their USGS proposals they must submit them to the teacher in order to be approved.  (Make sure all language is used in the appropriate context of the ingredients and the vocabulary is used in both contexts of “making rocks” and how rocks are “naturally made.”)  The teacher can stamp the students proposals or shake their hands and happily congratulate them into the geological society. 

2)  Students will then prepare each rock sample following their own approved methods and procedures

3)  Upon completion of each rock sample students will to take images of their “rocks” using a microcam.  The following images are examples:



d.   These images can be used to show how rocks differentiate based on the process that creates them.  This is a good time to start talking about specific characteristics that are used to identify rocks.  You can begin using terms such as:  foliation, clastic, extrusive…etc…

e.   Students should also take microcam images of real rock samples and discuss similarities they are able to observe between the images.

f.    Images should be attached to their rock cycle boards in the appropriate spaces they left for metamorphic rocks, igneous rocks, and sedimentary rocks)



4)  The class should vote on “which rock tastes the best” and try to explain what process allowed the “best taste” to occur.  Students will then create a written analysis about which rock they identify with the most.  Written explanation must use ALL vocabulary words and go through the process of how the rock was formed and why they feel connected to that process.  Analysis may be hung on their rock cycle board and displayed as the students begin to learn how to identify rocks by their given names.



New York State Science Standards: 

Physical Setting/Earth Science Core Curriculum (Regents Earth Science) 

Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design-Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Standard 2: Information Systems – Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information, using appropriate technologies

Standard 4:  The Physical Setting/Earth Science (1.2g)

Standard 6: Interconnectedness-Common Themes (Models) – Models are simplified representations of objects, structures, or systems used in analysis, explanation, interpretation, or design


Minerals:  3.1a, 3.1b, 3.1c

Igneous Rocks:  3.1c

Metamorphic Rocks:  2.1m, 3.1c

Sedimentary Rocks:  1.2f, 2.1v.2.1w, 3.1c


Mining and Natural Resources:  3.1a, 3.1c