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Let's Rock! A Unit on Rocks and Minerals

Project URL:

How it works:

Let's Rock! is a series of lessons on the exploration and investigation of rocks and minerals. The students learn about the properties of rocks and how to distinguish among the different types, while performing various experiments. They investigate the hardness of rocks, learn the effect of acid on certain rocks containing limestone, and perform streak tests to determine mineral color. They distinguish between the three types of rocks and classify them according to their properties. They discover what the rock cycle is, and compare it to other cycles on Earth.  The students have the opportunity to do many laboratory experiments, including the scratch test for mineral hardness. The students use the computer as a tool for graphing, creating webs, answering databases, importing graphics, and performing research. They also use a digital camera and insert pictures into their documents.

Standards addressed:  

Students demonstrate an understanding of change over time and of physical positions on Earth. They  write a report of information, use scientific notation for the writing of experiments, and demonstrate an understanding of graphs, flow charts, and semantic maps.

Materials used: 
Students will need a computer with Internet access. A scanner will be used by the teacher for the insertion of documents. A digital camera comes in handy to photograph the students at work and to add to the meaning of their reports. The program also includes a list of resources for students and teacher: reading and work material, class reading sources, worksheets, and Internet sites.

The students:
The students currently involved in this project are average third graders. They need a prerequisite of knowledge of the computer and a thirst for experimentation! They should also have experience working in cooperative groups.

Overall value: 
The best features of Let's Rock! are seeing the way the three types of rocks form through animated graphics, and the hands-on investigations. The students get to see what they have read about. They love experimenting with the various rocks and learning about the mineral contents. They personalize the lessons by performing research about their own birthstone and the history behind it.

Teachers should plan out the series of lessons beforehand and make sure that all sites are still active. They should decide on what experiments they wish to include and have all the materials ready. 

About the teacher:
Bonnie Glasgold is a science cluster teacher at P.S. 101 in Brooklyn, New York. She has taught for 23 years in the New York City public school system. She believes in a hands-on approach combined with literature to make science come alive, and has won numerous awards, including a TeachNet Adaptor grant, a Citibank grant for a Best Practices Lesson, and science fair awards at the district level. She has been a member of TeachNet for four years and many of her units are located on teachersnetwork.org.


Subject Areas:

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