After finding the similarities and differences of school supplies and pasta, students will classify rocks and minerals according to their characteristics.
- A group of assorted
school supplies (e.g.,
pencil, marker, paper
clip, ruler, scissors, etc.)
- Pasta in assorted shapes
- Rock and mineral
- Hand lenses
- Rocks and Soil, by Bill Nye
- Rock and Mineral Kits (The Bug House 435-864-2402,
350 E. 300 S., Delta, UT 84624)
Background for Teachers
A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic chemical substance
having a definite chemical composition and a characteristic crystal
structure. Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. A rock, therefore, is
a naturally occurring solid material composed of one or more minerals.
There are three types of rock: igneous, sedimentary, and
metamorphic. They are classified into one of these categories because of
the way in which they were formed.
Igneous rocks are those that solidify from a molten or partially
molten state. They include such rocks as basalt, granite, pumice and
Sedimentary rocks are formed from erosion and deposition. Wind,
water, ice, and chemicals break down existing rock into sediment that is
then transported and deposited by wind, water, and glaciers. As sediment
accumulates with time (thousands of years), it becomes compacted and
cemented, eventually forming rock. Over a period spanning hundreds of
millions of years, oceans, rivers, and great deserts covered Utah and
deposited the sediment that has formed into the sedimentary rocks we see
today. Some common sedimentary rocks are shale, sandstone, limestone,
Metamorphic rocks are any rock type that has been altered by heat,
pressure, and/or the chemical action of fluids and gases. Metamorphic
rocks are classified by their structure and their dominant minerals.
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
Invitation to Learn
Show students a set of rocks and minerals. Ask them to look at what
may be similar between each one. What are some of the differences they
observe? Ask if they might be able to put them in groups according to
what they look like, how they feel and any other characteristic they
- Ask questions to the students as to what they like, what they don’t
like, statistics about their family, themselves, etc. Point out that
they are certainly different; that no two students answered the
questions the very same. Ask them how they are alike. Discuss
with the class the reasons why they are members of the same
- Show the students a collection of school supplies. Ask how the
supplies are the same and how they are different.
- Classify the school supplies and record them on a simple chart on
- Divide the students into small learning groups of three to four
- Distribute a plastic bag filled with pasta to each group. Ask the
students to look at each kind of pasta. What similarities and
differences do they observe? Have them place the pasta into two
- Working with the entire class, discuss how the pasta can be
classified into groups. Have each group create a classification
sheet, classifying each piece of pasta.
- Give each group a bag of rocks and minerals and a hand lens.
- Have students look at the rocks and minerals, noting any
characteristics they observe. Have them share their findings with
the rest of the group.
- Using group input, what characteristics did they come up with?
Guide students to discovering the characteristics they might use.
- Ask the students to put the rocks and minerals into groups
according to what they see and feel, putting those of similar
characteristics in the same group. (These groups of rocks and
minerals will be quite varied.)
- Ask each group to classify their rocks and minerals according to
their individual characteristics.
- Have them share their charts with other groups. Can the new
group follow the previous group’s classification chart?
- Ask the students to identify the rocks from the minerals in their
collection. Knowing the characteristics of igneous, sedimentary
and metamorphic rocks, have the students place the rocks in their
- Have the family start a rock collection. Classify objects around
the house. Visit the national parks in southern Utah and look at
the rock formations.
- Students should be able to communicate the characteristics they
observe in rock and mineral samples using correct scientific
language. They should be able to make a simple classification
outline using a minimum of five objects.