MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Investigating Rocks: Seeing your school's area

Investigating Rocks: Seeing your school's area

Matt Weingartz, Transfiguration School, Oakdale, MN. Based on an original activity from Prentice Hall Textbook, Science Explorer: Earth Science C. 2000
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In this earth science lab, students will find, identify, and create a visual presentation of the rocks that are found around their school. They will determine the mass, volume, density, color, texture, and hypothesize what each rock is. Students will then make a visual poster board that will display their findings. They will provide a hypothesis about how each rock found its way to the school and if it is natural to the area or unnaturally brought there.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to examine their local environment, practice basic scientific investigation tools, and learn about the different types of rocks. The students must try and think of how rocks might have formed in the area, and research to see if the rocks are natural to the area. They must use observations, presentation techniques, use equipment to perform tests, and research rocks.

Some concepts are rock classification and rock types.

Vocabulary words would be sedimentary rock, metamorphic rock, density, mass, volume.

Context for Use

This activity could be used in middle school earth science classes. Class size does not matter. It is used as a combination of lab and project presentation. One day is needed for collection, one day for data compilation, two days for project presentation preparation, and one day to present findings to class. Students need a balance and the knowledge of what rocks are and where they can research rocks.

Subject: Geoscience
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity:Field laboratories
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:K12, Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field

Description and Teaching Materials

Start by introducing different types of rocks. Have students go out to the school playground or outside area where rocks are present. Have them collect ten different rocks from the area. Have them measure the mass, volume, density, texture, and color of each rock they have found. Have them then prepare a poster with which they will present their findings to the rest of the class.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Have students work individually. Set up presentations as a class and a walk around session.


Accuracy of data and neatness of presentation.


8.I.B.3-Data retrieval
8.III.A.6-Identify Rocks