Florida River Project: Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks lab

Kim Hannula
Fort Lewis College
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: December 4, 2008 | Reviewed: August 2, 2011


This fairly traditional rocks-in-boxes lab has been incorporated into a semester-long project. At the end of the lab, students apply their rock-identification skills to rocks from their study area.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



Introductory Earth Systems Science course with lab. (see the course profile)

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Mineral identification, igneous rock identification, use of GPS to find UTM coordinates and latitude/longitude coordinates.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the 5th lab of the semester. It follows a topographic maps lab, a mineral identification lab, a field trip to the Florida River to look at rock and mineral textures, and an igneous rocks lab. Later in the semester, students will measure discharge and collect and analyze water samples from the river that runs through the map included as part of the lab handout. Eventually, students will need to think about how the bedrock affects the dissolved load of the river that runs across it.
See an overview of this project and find descriptions for each of the activities on the Florida River overview page.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Sedimentary rock identification, metamorphic rock identification, description of rock textures.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Use of GPS to find waypoints.

Description of the activity/assignment

Most of this lab is a fairly traditional rocks-in-boxes lab on identification of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. At the end of the lab, students practice identifying real rocks in the campus rock garden, which includes boulders of most of the bedrock units within our county. Students use GPS units to find the samples to identify (so that they can explore while the instructor answers other student questions). At each boulder, students identify the rock type, the minerals present, and the rock textures. The lab handout includes a simplified geologic map of an area that they previously visited on a field trip, and which they will use later in the semester in discussions of water samples that they collect.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Check for correct identification of rocks, minerals, and textures.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials