Rocks, Fossils, and the Law of Superposition Sequencing Activity

Objectives:

  • Sequence information using items which overlap specific sets
  • Relate sequencing to the Law of Superposition
  • Show how fossils can be used to give relative dates to rock layers.

Materials:

  • Fossils, Rocks, and the Law of Superposition Google Slides – this will walk you through the lesson step-by-step
  • Set of 8 cards for each groupsdownload from the UEN
    • additional lesson plan details on their site
    • print and cut apart the 8 cards for each part of the lesson
    • to set up the cards, use large 4×6 index cards and store in ziptop bags.
    • on one side of the index cards, glue on the nonsense letters
    • on the reverse side, glue on the fossil layers
      • laminate for durability
      • Replace the letters for each fossil layer, see my ppt for new random letters
        • spelling out the word “ORGANISM is way too easy for students to figure out and they will not really have a chance to work on the activity with the depth of thinking and problem solving that you want them to do
        • be sure to stagger cards so that the order of the cards is not the same, otherwise they will flip over the cards and have the answer for part 2
  • Notes HandoutLaw of Superposition Notes (pdf) students will take notes and record their answers on this handout.

Tips for this lesson:

This is a fantastic lesson and I have used it successfully with both 5th and 6th grade students. When introducing this lesson I use the analogy of a laundry hamper, or in most cases, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor in their bedroom. Today’s clothes would go on top of the pile, each day adding a layer of dirty clothes. The older clothes would be on the bottom of the pile, kind of like a timeline of what they wore this week. When that laundry is collected and moved to the laundry room, the layers would get disrupted. With rocks, the layers form on top of each other, and the older layers are on the bottom. We then brainstorm how those layers can be disrupted: earthquakes, tectonic plates moving, landslides, digging, etc…

For this activity, they have to figure out the pattern of how these layers are formed, and there are clues in each layer, they just need to know what to look for. For the nonsense letters, there is a pattern that connects all the layers together. Many will think it is alphabetical, but I tell them that it is not. Once they have worked on it a few minutes, I have them share their theories. Once each group has shared their theory, I give them the clue. And suddenly, the pattern is clear now that they know what to look for. Using the same strategy, they will then sequence the fossils on the reverse side of the index cards.

 

Ride the Rock Cycle – Comic Strip Adventure

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Materials:

  • Rock Cycle Comic Strip Lesson Plan (link – pdf) or ScienceSpot.net or NSTA
    • Note there is a typo with the numbering on the handout – it should be numbered 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 in case you want to make corrections prior to photocopying it
  • Laminated Station Cards
    • Stations as Google Slides – public
    • Rock Cycle Comic Stations (pdf)
    • For 2016-2017 I updated some of the stations to have more variety in the outcomes and introduce some higher level concepts for my 6th graders to lead into our unit on Plate Tectonics
  • Dice: 2-4 at each station
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils

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Tips for running the lesson:

  • Use this lesson after introducing the Rock Cycle to students.
  • Having 2-4 dice at each location allows multiple students to be at each station at the same time. In the past when I used the paper dice that come with the lesson, it took time for each student to write down the outcome from the dice. Having the outcomes on the station cards helps speed things up.
  • Set up stations around the room, depending on the number of students you have, you can make multiple stations for each one.
    • For example, for the Soil Station or the Earth’s Crust & Interior Station, you can have more than one of each to spread students out around the room. They get a lot of traffic.
  • If students get ‘stuck’ at a station, explain that they can be stuck in the Earth’s Interior for millions of years and their whole comic would be just that one station, but allow them to ‘roll out’ of a station if they are there for a 3rd time.
    • For example – A student will end up at the Soil Station and roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” and write that on their handout. Then they will roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” again, and write it down. If on the 3rd turn they roll “Rocks Break Down, Remain Here” have them roll again until they get something different. They may then get “Flooding Occurs, Go to River” and write that down and go to the River Station. They may end up back at the Soil Station on a later turn, but that is OK. They will visit some stations more than others.
  • Once students are done with their journey, check over their work and then have them start their comic strip. They might need some tips on how to draw certain geological processes.
  • I have used this lesson for many years and the students really enjoy making their comics and come away with a better understanding of how rocks change over time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining Simulation

cookiemining
Cookie Mining – with an example of cookies used for the activity.

Materials:

This is one of my favorite activities from our minerals and mining unit. It takes about 1 whole class period to explain the activity, collect data, eat the cookie (& crumbs), and clean up. We discuss our results the next class and determine who made the most profit.

When determining the value of the chocolate ore, I have the students place their chocolate pieces close together in one area of the map. When they are done, I go around and circle the area of chocolate and give their chocolate a rating. They count the number of boxes their chocolate covers and enter it into their spreadsheet.

If there are crumbs attached to the chocolate, I call that ‘slag’ and it lowers the value of the chocolate ore. This leads to a great discussion afterwards when we compare the profits and talk about land use. Is it better to get out as much chocolate as you can, even if you get a lot of slag, or is it better to remove just the chocolate even though you will have less in the end? How is this similar to coal mining? Diamond mining?

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Students try different techniques to extract the chocolate.
cookiemining3
Cookie blasting – extracting as much chocolate as you can in 5 minutes.

 

Rocks ROCK! Identification Stations

Research & Note taking
Rock Identification: Research and note taking

Materials:

  • At least 4 samples for each of the following 12 rocks:
    • Igneous Rocks: Pumice, Obsidian, Basalt, & Granite
    • Sedimentary Rocks: Sandstone, Limestone, Conglomerate, & Coal
    • Metamorphic Rocks: Slate, Gneiss, Hornfels, & Marble
  • Rocks, Gems, and Minerals Guide – classroom set
  • Handouts for note-taking
  • Flashcards – print out and glue onto index cards (pdf)
    • each student made their own set to keep
  • Index cards with rock IDs on them
    • 1 set per lab table
  • Paper plates
    • 12 plates with rock IDs
    • additional plates: 1 set per table if not using index cards

rocks_id_2

Students will learn to identify & categorize 12 common rocks samples during this multi-day lesson. To introduce the unit, students are given the foundation of how rocks form and the three types of rocks: Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary.

rocks_id_3

Working with a partner and/or in small groups, they will research, handle, and compare the rock specimens and take careful notes at the different stations. Once their research is done, they will practice identifying the rock samples by creating and teaching each other different games using the rocks samples.

rocks_plate_id_game

Some games the students played are:

  • Sort the rocks into 3 piles: I, S, or M, who can do it the fastest?
  • Rock races
    • 2 students are given 6 rocks each to find and sort from the pile of 12
    • can you find it? Name a rock and pick it from the pile
  • Match the rock samples to the name of the rock
  • Mis-match some of the rocks with their ID cards, can you figure out which ones are incorrect?
  • Rock Quiz – creating questions from the index cards
    • examples:
      • Which rock is the only intrusive igneous rock?
      • Which rock floats on water?
      • Which one used to be limestone?

rocks_id_indexcards_2

For more lessons related to Rocks & Minerals, be sure to visit my Earth Science Page (link).

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