Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Metamorphic Rocks Lab

Metamorphic Rocks Lab

Ann C. H. Hadley
Manchester Community College
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 8, 2008


Students describe rock characteristics and determine if a rock sample is metamorphic. If it is, they determine the parent rock. If not, they describe what it would change into as a metamorphic rock. The whole class puts the group of 20 samples together as part of a large puzzle.

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This is a lab for Introduction to Physical Geology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have completed units and lab activities on the rock cycle as well as igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks for this activity to be successful. It pulls together information from previous experiences.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is presented about 6 weeks into the course as a way for students to understand the inter-related nature of the rock cycle and metamorphic processes.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

After completing this activity, students should be comfortable describing metamorphic features in hand samples. They should be able to link samples to metamorphic parent rocks or link a non-metamorphic rock to its metamorphic form.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students utilize observation skills and keys. Then they go on to utilize the information in critical thinking about the samples' relationship to the rock cycle.

Other skills goals for this activity

After the students work individually or in pairs to describe their samples, they work together as a lab group to match the non-metamorphic samples to the metamorphic samples in a large rock cycle puzzle.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students each obtain 2 rock samples from a collection of 20 for the lab. Students complete a data form for observations concerning metamorphic features. Each student identifies the 2 samples and describes the metamorphic parent rock. When everyone in the lab has finished, the group matches all the non-metamorphic samples to the metamorphic samples in a large rock cycle puzzle.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students complete a data sheet for their samples. All students participate in the rock cycle activity with the samples they have identified. The group helps out in matching rocks in the activity.

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