Geology Rocks! Learning about Rocks and Minerals
Geology rocks and minerals is a fascinating subject that can easily captivate kids.
It is the study of the earth; particularly the rocks that form it and how those rocks are formed. It is the perfect topic to incorporate hands-on science activities for middle school, like the ones below.
When you begin learning about rocks, you’ll quickly learn that they are comprised of various minerals. Travel or take a look at some images online and you’ll see that some rock formations found around our world are breathtaking. And with their sparkle and rarity, gems and minerals are some of the most beautiful natural occurring objects you will study.
My kids have always loved rocks and regularly collect interesting specimens they find. Because of this interest, we have studied geology at various levels over the years.
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After a recent trip to the Colorado Mountains, my children came home with a renewed interest in geology. So, I embraced their curiosity, dusted off some of our tools and purchased a rock and minerals set so we could take a closer look at the solid earth.
This ended up being a perfect hands-on tool for teaching my kids about geology. They have been so engaged and excited!
The kit included 15 rocks and 15 minerals to study, tools for identification, a crack open geode and rocks for building a crystal garden.
Our favorite activities have included:
Crack Open Geodes
Geodes are stones where the hollow centers are filled with minerals. The pockets for the minerals were created by vesicles or sediment erosion. You can search for them in nature or you can purchase them
Kids love breaking open geodes because you never know what the inside looks like until you crack it open with a hammer. What starts as a very plan looking rock, once opened, becomes a beautiful crystal garden. The most common mineral is clear quartz.
If you are going to purchase geodes to open, I would recommend sticking with the larger size because they will be easier to break. There is a chance that crystals may not be present in your geode, which is why I usually purchase a couple for my kids to open.
Growing a Crystal Garden
As I mentioned, the rocks we needed for our crystal garden came in the kit I purchased. All we had to do was put the rock in a shallow bowl and cover it with vinegar. We also added some food coloring so the crystals would pick up the color. As the vinegar evaporated, colorful crystals began growing on the rock.
If you don’t want to purchase rocks for growing your crystal garden, you can create one yourself by using charcoal briquette pieces, bluing, salt, ammonia, and food coloring. Rinse the charcoal in water and put the damp briquettes into a bowl. Mix the bluing, salt and ammonia together and pour it over the charcoal. Squeeze some food coloring over the coals. As you let it sit, undisturbed, the mixture will evaporate and crystals will appear.
A yummy way for kids to visually see how some igneous rocks are formed is by using ice cream and hot fudge. This was a favorite activity of ours! We scooped ice cream into a bowl and poured hot fudge over it.
My kids got to see how the hot fudge cooled very quickly because of the cold surface of the ice cream. This showed them how lava quickly cools once it is exposed to the environment. The smooth surface you see with the fudge mimics the texture of some igneous rocks, like obsidian.
Follow my middle school science board for more activities!
Do you have a budding geologist in your house? What hands-on activities do you incorporate to fuel their curiosity?
I love studying rocks, and we will be doing that very thing this upcoming year:) Thanks for all of the suggested activities and resources!
You’re welcome Erin! We are really enjoying our geology activities this time around.
This looks wonderful. My son is a bit young but in the future a may purchase this. Thank you for sharing.
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