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.
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining Simulation

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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.
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Cookie blasting – extracting as much chocolate as you can in 5 minutes.