In this classroom guided inquiry lesson, students will become geologists. They will investigate rocks and the properties we can use to describe them. Students will observe, record, and reflect on their findings. They will record their observations in their science notebooks throughout the lesson. After the investigation, students will develop a hypothesis as to what they think rocks are made of. Students will draw a conclusion later on in the unit after they study minerals.
Students will learn that a geologist is a scientist who studies planet Earth. One thing that a geologist studies about Earth is its rocks. Rocks are among the materials that make up Earth.
Students will learn the properties a geologist would use to describe rocks.
Vocabulary Words: geology, geologist, property, circumference, diameter, depth, balance, mass, granite, igneous, plutonic
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
student science notebooks and pencils
10 chunks of granite
10 paper plates
25 hand lenses
25 measuring tapes
10 plastic cups
Student Response Sheet- Mock Rocks
1) Introduce geology to students by telling them that the study of materials that make up planet Earth is called geology. Then, explain to them what a geologist is. Then, explain that –ology is "the study of" and –ologist is "a person who studies". Then, discuss ento-, bio-, and geo-. Have the students combine the terms to realize the meaning of the words biology, entomologist, and geology. See if they can think of any others.
2) Introduce the idea of rock properties. Explain to students that geologists make detailed observations of rocks. Also, talk with students about the importance of careful and detailed observations. They need these because when they want to test a rock the rock has usually changed in some way and they want to be able to compare it to what it was like before the test. Make a list on chart paper of all the different properties a geologist could use to describe rocks, including: texture, color, shape, edges, size, weight, and maybe smell.
3) Introduce granite and explain to students that their challenge is to describe the rock in detail. Tell them that granite is an Igneous Rock, meaning that it is a volcanic rock. Draw a diagram to show them that it is a plutonic rock, coming from inside of the magma chamber.
4) Remind students to use their hand lenses to get an up-close view of their granite. They also can use their measuring tape to measure the size of their rock. They need to draw a detailed sketch of their rock in their Science Notebooks and write observation sentences. Have students get equipment and begin their observations.
5) To conclude today's lesson, have the students meet together as a large group. Share their observations they came up with. Have all the students write one question they are wondering about their rock. Make a "Questions about Rocks" chart. Have students share their questions and record them on the chart. Then, have students write a hypothesis of what a rock is. Share their hypotheses, and tell them we will come back to them throughout the unit. Their hypothesis of what a rock is may change throughout the unit.
6) If time allows, have students start a word bank including the key vocabulary words.
This lesson has been modified from Foss: Earth Materials, Investigation 1: Mock Rocks Part1: Investigating Mock Rocks. Published by Delta Education, Nashua, NH, 2000.