The Rock Cycle refers to the evolution of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks on the crust of the Earth. The movement of the crust, later erosion and redeposition of rocks, created many types of environments where different types of rocks were formed. The interplay of water, life, chemistry and physics helps in understand the rock cycle. After all, minerals and rocks are important to our society. Look around and you can see that the products of minerals and rocks are a vital part of our everyday life. Concrete is a building material made of cement (calcite and clay), sand, and gravel; gypsum board for house, gold for jewelry, copper for wire, mineral ores for iron, lead, and most metal. Students by the end of elementary grades should learn how minerals and rocks are distinguished, why they are important, and how they are formed.
The Rock Cycle for elementary grades is broken into four main themes: Chemistry, Minerals, Rocks, and Past Life. The four themes allow students to study the importance of the rock Cycle through hands-on activities.
Chemistry deals with all the matter that make up the Earth; why substances behave as they do; how objects are put together; and how elements interact with one another. Chemistry is basic to the rock cycle because it unlocks the mystery of why and how minerals and rocks are formed. In the lower primary grades, introducing the meaning of matter and elements is important. In the upper primary grades emphasis is placed on compounds and bonding.
Minerals are the basic building blocks of rocks. One or more elements combine to form thousands of different types of minerals. In the lower primary grades, students should be introduced to the beauty and characteristics of minerals. In the upper primary grades, students' attention should focus on the importance of minerals and how molecules combine to form minerals.
Rocks in the lower primary grade center around observational skills. Students learn that rocks are basic in creating soil and learn the characteristics that separate igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. In the upper primary, students learn how the rocks are formed within and on the crust of the Earth.
Past Life shows students that the "present is the key to the past." Lower primary students study dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals and begin to learn about past environments. Upper primary students look at how organisms and environments have evolved through time.
A key element in making the ROCK CYCLE exciting to your students is to bring local minerals, rocks, and fossils for your students to look at. This manual gives a teacher a basis for determining that units will focus a child's learning on the importance of the Rock Cycle. We recommend that teachers customize the laboratory activities to their particular state by consulting either local universities, local state or city geological surveys or the U.S. Geological Survey.
The word chemistry means different "things" to different people. Many children see bottles and beakers filled with substances have "mysterious powers" and others see chemistry as a difficult science that only bright children can understand. Chemistry is all around us. Chemistry deals with the make-up of the earth; why substances behave as they do; how things are put together; and how things interact with one another. In the lower primary grades the introduction of the meaning of matter and elements is emphasized. In the upper primary grades the emphasis shifts towards compounds and bonding. Chemistry is a basic component in understanding minerals and rocks.
I. LOWER PRIMARY - EXPLAINING MATTER
Students learn that matter is a fundamental principle in observing and understanding the world around us. Traditionally there are three states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. However, a fourth state of matter should be introduced to students called plasma. Students will be able to distinguish the states of matter. Students can easily learn different elements using the periodic table to associate native minerals, which are elements that occur in pure form. Students will learn about the different properties of the elements.
II. UPPER PRIMARY - COMPOUNDS AND BONDING
Students look into how atoms and molecules form elements and compounds. They look into the molecular arrangement of molecules and how they bond together to understand why minerals take on certain crystalline structures. Students compare crystal shapes of minerals and reflect on the internal molecular arrangement. Students discover the differences between saturated and unsaturated solutions in order to understand how crystals grow. Students learn about chemical reactions and why they are so important in the creation of minerals.
Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. One or
more elements combine to form thousands of different types of minerals.
Minerals are also important to the world economy because some minerals
such as gold and silver can determine the wealth of a nation. Some
minerals are used in various defense industries, like urainite, a uranium
ore, and become very important to that country. Some minerals are admired
because of their beauty, like diamonds and emeralds. Minerals are very
useful in everyday objects such as watches (quartz) and plaster (gypsum).
In the lower primary students should be introduced to the beauty of
minerals. Emphasis on different colors and shapes of minerals will help
students recognize mineral characteristics. In the upper primary grades,
attention should be focused on the importance of minerals and how
molecules combine to make minerals.
Students will compare and contrast the different colors of minerals. They will learn the differences between rocks and minerals by learning key characteristics of minerals. Students will analyze geometric shapes of minerals and make a crystal garden. They also will learn how different minerals break or cleave.
II. UPPER PRIMARY - PROPERTIES OF MINERALSStudents will learn that minerals are made of elements and compounds. They will continue to distinguish key characteristics of minerals. They will interpret the hardness of minerals and how that can help identify minerals. Students will analyze how minerals are useful in our everyday economy. Students will compare the chemical make up of minerals and determine if this will help them identify properties of those minerals.
Rocks are very important to the economy of a nation.
Roadways need tar and gravel, pool filters need diatomite, gardens use
rocks as ornamental stones like scoria, basalt, limestone, tuff, and many
more. Students should learn not only why rocks are here, but why they are
important to a country's economy. In the lower primary grades students
should start observing that rocks are all around. If you do not live in a
mountainous area there are still many places to identify rocks, like
building stones or ornamental stones. Students should learn that broken
rocks and organic matter create soil. Students should begin to learn there
are three different types of changing pressure and temperature
(metamorphic). In the upper primary, students should learn what makes the
three different types of rocks different and what clues can be learned
about how the rocks were formed. Characteristic minerals of rock types are
Students will learn the three different types of rocks and where they are formed on the crust of the Earth. They will compare and contrast the many different types of rocks. Students will learn about key characteristics that helps identify different rock types. They will begin to compare and contrast the different characteristics to identify rocks. Students will learn that sands can help identify "Mother Rocks" that formed the sand.
II. UPPER PRIMARY - INTERPRETING HOW ROCKS ARE FORMED
Students will discover how rocks are deposited and created in different environments. Plate Tectonics will help students learn how rocks are created and why you can use rocks to help interpret the Earth's history. They will continue to analyze sand, while determining the percentage of minerals in rocks. Students will compare the different components of the rock cycle.
The "present is the key to the
past" teaches students the importance of observing living organisms
so they can investigate fossils. Organisms that have hard parts will
fossilize more readily than those without. The fossil record is incomplete
because not all organisms leave remains. Students will become familiar
with many types of fossils so they can understand why fossils are
important in learning how the earth has changed. Fossils also tell us
about the environmental conditions when the organisms were alive.
Organisms evolved or changed through time, and it is these changes that
give us clues on how old the rocks are. This helps us to interpret what
the earth used to look like, which helps to find oil and minerals.
Students will learn that dinosaurs lived in the past and will distinguish between extinct and living organisms. Students will analyze how dinosaurs lived. Students will begin to look at other types of fossils, by comparing and contrasting invertebrates, vertebrates and plant fossils.
II. UPPER PRIMARY - THE PRESENT IS THE KEY TO THE PASTStudents will interpret "the present is the key to the past." They will make trace fossils and interpret the information that can be derived from fossils. Students will learn about stratigraphy and analyze cores of the Earth. They will understand how fossils help geologists determine the age of events that happened on the Earth long ago.
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