GRADE FOUR SCIENCE

ROCKS, MINERALS, AND FOSSILS
A RESOURCE-BASED UNIT OF STUDY


Developed by

Bertha Thiessen, Dave Carpenter, and Grace Munro
Hague Elementary School

Introductory note to the teacher: It is better to plan this unit for fall, spring, or summer. If students have ready access to sand, pebbles, and gravel, it is simpler to round up all the "stuff" that is necessary to teach this unit. Don't let the length of the bibliography intimidate you, as most of the supplies are readily available. And of course, since teachers are masters of improvisation, substitutions can be made for items not available.


SCIENCE FOUNDATIONAL OBJECTIVES:

The students will gain an understanding of the earth's history by:



INFORMATION SKILLS OBJECTIVES:

Students will learn and practice:


COMMON ESSENTIAL LEARNINGS EMPHASIZED IN THIS UNIT:

Link to Evergreen Curriculum


INTRODUCTORY MOTIVATIONAL ACTIVITY:

Prior to the start of this unit, the teacher will, in the classroom, begin to build a sedimentary "rock" by layering in a jar or ice-cream pail on a daily basis the following: cement, sand and cement, plaster of Paris, plaster of Paris and sand, plaster of Paris and coloring. This should be done without explanation. When the students begin the unit in the library, and a reference to sedimentary rock is made, they can be asked if they have observed any such activity. They will immediately recognize what the purpose was in the layering of cement and plaster. They will probably enjoy trying to split it up. (See the Curriculum Guide for Grade Four Science, page 421, activity 13, for more detailed instructions.)

The unit seems to divide itself into two sections: first - rocks, minerals and their formation, and second - fossils.





PART ONE:
EARTH'S HISTORY AND ROCK FORMATION



Introduction:

View and listen to the filmstrip and cassette entitled Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Society). Have the participating teacher(s) and the teacher-librarian each introduce one of the following work stations- through which the students will circulate in groups on each of the next four days.




WORK STATION ONE
Rock Identification According to Type and Location

Learning Objectives:

The student will discover the Saskatchewan locations of various rocks and minerals. The student will plot Saskatchewan locations of rocks on a map of Saskatchewan (integrate with Grade Four Social Studies).


Required Materials:

Skills Required by Students to Complete Work at This Station:

The students will need to be able to work together and share information in a group setting.


Activity:

At this station, students will examine all the samples in the kit, sort out the ones labeled as igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. They will notice the differences in appearance, weight, and texture in the three groups of rock samples. The location of each rock (as indicated on the labels of each sample) will be marked on the Saskatchewan map, along with the name of and type of rock. Then the students will incorporate the completed map in their science notebooks. Also in their notebooks, students will list the names of all the rock samples under the headings of "igneous", "sedimentary", and "metamorphic".


Evaluation:

The teachers will evaluate the students' maps on the criteria of completeness, accuracy, and neatness. The students will evaluate each others' notebook listings of the three types of rock by comparing with a correct copy.




WORK STATION TWO
Comparing the Hardness of Rocks

Learning Objectives:

Students will physically test rock samples for hardness and chart their findings. Students will create a rock "sculpture".


Required Materials:


Skills Required By, or to be Practiced By the Students:

Experimenting, graphing results, interpreting data, working together cooperatively, and creating a pet rock or other sculpture with pebbles and glue


Activity:

Test the hardness of a pre-selected group of various rocks with the implements provided, and complete a graph or chart comparing the hardness of the various rocks. The students will then use another collection of rocks and pebbles along with glue (hot glue works best) to create a pet rock or a sculpture of rocks.


Evaluation:

Have students create their own checklist of criteria for good rock sculptures, and evaluate their own products according to their checklist. They will incorporate their rock hardness graphs or charts into their own science notebooks for future reference. The teacher(s) and/or teacher-librarian may wish to evaluate the accuracy of these charts according to a pre-determined correct copy.


WORK STATION THREE
Rock Formation

Learning Objectives:

The student will do personal research with print materials provided to discover how the three kinds of rock were/are formed.


Required Materials:


Student Skills Required (some may need pre-teaching):

Skim-reading, note-taking; ability to distinguish the important facts in their reading from the unimportant


Activity:

Students will research in the books for information on how the three types of rocks were/are formed. In their notebooks, they will identify the important facts about igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks under these headings:

  1. How is this type of rock formed?
  2. Give several examples of such rocks (i.e. supply the names).
  3. Tell about either:

    1. the uses that have been found for this type of rock

    2. special characteristics of this type of rock, or

    3. a description of this type of rock - appearance, texture, etc.

Students will also provide a bibliographic entry for their information according to a pre-taught bibliographic format.


Evaluation:

Teacher evaluation: notebook entries, accuracy, completeness, information in students' own words, and bibliographic entries.



WORK STATION FOUR
Rock Erosion and Soil Formation

Learning Objectives:

The student will be able to explain and demonstrate that soil is made up primarily of rock which has been broken down. The student will understand that arable soil is made up of more ingredients than broken-down rock particles.


Materials Required:


Student Skills:

Co-operation, brainstorming, making inferences, (and cleaning up!!)


Activity:

Students will:

  1. read carefully p. 62, in chapter 4 of the Journeys Grade Four book, about the weathering of rocks, erosion, and how they contribute to soil formation
  2. attempt to create sand (soil) by hammering some pebbles inside a heavy bag. This can also be done by allowing students to go outside and hammer rocks on the cement sidewalk outside the school and collecting the resulting rock particles

  3. They will then measure the amount of powdered rock they've created and select similar measures of garden dirt and potting soil. The students will brainstorm and record in writing what makes the three samples different from each other. They will infer what might have been added to powdered rock to account for the differences in the three samples. Students will then create (individually or as a group) a chart to record the differences between powdered rock, garden dirt, and potting soil. They should check appearance, smell, texture, color, weight, and taste(!). A worksheet might be created to ensure that all groups cover essentially the same comparisons.

Evaluation:

Teacher(s) and/or teacher-librarian will informally and orally check each group at this station to ensure that inferences have been made and that the samples have been compared in a number of different ways. A student self-evaluation sheet or procedure might be used to help the students evaluate how successful their brainstorming activity was.


BONUS STATION
Rock Collecting as a Hobby, and Gemstones

The bonus station is designed to give students an opportunity to extend their knowledge - or to give students who have finished their station work early something extra and special to do to gain more and different kinds of information and experience.


Required Materials:

Following the four days of work at the stations, during which each group of students will have worked at each of the four stations, provide a catch-up period, where students may return to stations to:

  1. complete unfinished work,
  2. make up for a missed day due to illness, or
  3. do extra work at any station which interests them.




PART TWO:
THE FOSSIL RECORD IN ROCK



Introduction:

View and listen to the f/s cassette kit entitled Fossils - Traces of the Past (National Geographic Society). Discuss with the class the relationship between rock formation and the discovery of fossils.


Activity - Day One and Two

Two-day activity: following instructions on p. 191 in the Silver Burdett Science book, have the students make a mold of an artifact (shell, bone) on the first day; and a cast of the shell or bone on the second day. Students should work in groups of two. Required materials: two empty, clean milk cartons per group, plaster of Paris, water, petroleum jelly to coat the shells and bones, scissors, hammer; and an assortment of seashells or bones (washed chicken or steak bones) to make molds and casts with.


Activity - Day Three

On the third day, students should compare their own casts with the original shell or bone they used to make the mold. Magnifying lenses can aid them in making accurate comparisons. The students should be asked to consider how their own experience with molds and casts mirrors the activities of paleontologists who make casts of impressions left in rock.

Then introduce these questions to the class as a group:

  1. Why do archaeologists and paleontologists dig stuff up out of rocks and spend time studying these finds?
  2. Is there any value in the study of rocks and fossils? Explain.



Then, have four or five groups of students go to an equal number of tables, on each of which is stacked an assortment of books on fossils, archaeology, geology, and so on. Have the students spend 10 or 15 minutes at the table browsing and reading some of the material in order to formulate some informed opinions on the above questions. Have the groups change tables every 15 minutes, until each group has visited each of the tables. This mini-research activity can be followed up on one of two ways. Either the students can write down their thoughts and opinions on the questions posed at the beginning of the class period, or a whole-class discussion can be held, with a recorder assigned to take notes of all opinions (chalkboard or chart paper).


Activity - Day Four (Concluding Day)

With the whole class, use page 96 in the Journeys, Grade Four textbook ‹ and go over the first paragraphs, which review the formation of the three major types of rock. The last half of page 96 is an excellent springboard for discussion. With the questions posed there, the discussion should draw out what the students have learned about scientists in the fields of geology, paleontology, and archaeology, and how they make inferences from their discoveries. With the background that the students will have gained and the experiences they have shared in small groups, the whole-class discussion should be lively.


Unit Evaluation:

Have the students evaluate their reaction to the unit by completing a short "questionnaire" like:

What I liked about this unit was . . . But I wish that . . ."

Teacher(s) and/or teacher-librarian will need to assess the effectiveness of the unit, the adequacy of the materials available, and the possibility of improvements for another class. A short quiz might be considered as a concluding activity or evaluation tool, however the students will have been so involved in their activities, and the learning quite thorough, that a quiz or test may be unnecessary.



BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR GRADE FOUR SCIENCE UNIT
ROCKS, MINERALS, AND FOSSILS



Aliki. Fossils tell of long ago. Crowell, 1972 0-690-31379-9

Adams, P. J. The origin and evolution of coal. British Geological Museum, 11-8800957

Bain, Rae. Rocks and minerals. Academic Book Caravans, 0-7737-2180-0

Crosby, Phoebe. Junior science book of rock collecting. Garrard, 1962

Cormack, M. The first book of stones. Franklin Watts, 531-00644-1

Dunning, F. W. Geophysical Exploration. British Geological Museum, 11-8800612

Ferguson, Diana. Rocks. MacDonal Starters, 1974, 0-356-04631-1

Gans, Roma. Rock collecting. Harper Let's Read and Find Out series, 0-06-445063-5

Gallob, Edward. City rocks, city blocks and the moon. Scribers, 1973, 684-13542-6

Gordon, Anthony. Geology of Saskatchewan. Western Extension College, 1979, 0-92084-10-8

Jennings, Terry. Rocks and soils. Oxford University Press, 19-9180393

Howard, John. I can read about fossils. Troill, 0-89375-038.7

Edwards, W. N. Early history of Paleontology. British Geological Museum, 565-006584

Keen, Martin L. Hunting fossils. Simon and Schuster, 1970, 671-32253-2

Lye, K. Rocks, minerals and fossils. Wayland, 1988. 1-85210-607-7

Macpherson, H. G. Agates. British Museum, 1989, 0-565-011006

Podendorf, I. Rocks and minerals. New True Book, 05-1601648-2

Rhodes, F. H. T. Geology. Golden Guide series (Britannica) 63549-X

Roberts, A. Fossils. New True Book, 05-16016784

Storer, J. Geological History of Saskatchewan. Museum National History, Regina

Symes, R. F. Rocks and minerals. Stoddart, 1988, 0-7737-2180-0

Thackray, John. British fossils. Fitzhenry, 11-8842374

Wyler, Rose. Secrets in stone. Scholastic, 1978.

Zim, Herbert. Rocks and minerals....a guide. Golden Press, 1957. 0-307-63502-3

Taylor, Paul D. Fossil. Stoddard Eyewitness Guide, 0-7737-2346-3

Rocks and minerals (teacher reference). Venture, Explore themes, 0-06-445063-5

Swindon, W. E. Fossils, amphibians, and reptiles. Fitzhenry, 565-00543-X

Woodward. Gemstones. British Museum, 1987, 565-010115

Westeley, Joan. Rocks, sand and soil (teacher reference). Addison Wesley Creative Pub. (teacher reference, 0-88488-707-3

Window on science - rocks (teacher reference). Addison Wesley, 07329-3



AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS
Sample Kit for Miners - available free from:
Publications Branch
Saskatchewan Energy, Mines and Resources
1914 Hamilton Street
Regina, SK S4P 3V7
Fossils: Traces of the Past (filmstrip and cassette kit) National Geographic Society
Rocks and Minerals (filmstrip and cassette kit) National Geographic Society


AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT REQUIRED
Filmstrip projector
Cassette tape recorder
Screen


SCIENCE SUPPLIES
Scales
Magnifying lenses
Eye droppers


SUPPLIES TO PURCHASE/OBTAIN LOCALLY
cement
sand
plaster of Paris
food coloring
shells
fossils or bones
variety of rocks and pebbles
gravel
crushed rock
scratching implements: table knife, penny, screwdriver, nail file, steel file
hammers
soil samples
garden dirt
commercial potting soil
ice cream pails
petroleum jelly
scissors
water


SUPPLIES FOR STUDENTS TO BRING
science notebooks
pen/pencil
ruler
glue
clean empty milk cartons


INTEGRATED RESOURCES
Nelson Reading Series: Networks, Flip Flops book
Unit: Dinosaur Data

also Reading and How Resource Book from Nelson Reading Series, Grade IV


WORK STATION TWO
Student Activity: How hard are various minerals?



Material Needed:


About 10 different minerals or rocks, preferably quite different from one another. Have them labeled with either their names, or numbers for coding purposes, if names are unknown. Also pennies, table knife, steel file.


Method:

On Table 1 (below), list the 10 minerals or rocks in the first column. Test each rock/mineral with your fingernail, penny, knife, and file. Check with Table 2 (below) to find a "hardness number" that corresponds to the tested rock. Enter the "hardness number" on Table 1 beside the name/number of the rock just tested.


Table 1
  Mineral/Rock Hardness Number
1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10


Table 2
HARDNESS TEST HARDNESS NUMBER
Can be scratched with a fingernail 1 - 2
Can be scratched with a penny 3
Can scratch a penny 4
Can be scratched with a table knife 5 - 6
Can be scratched with a steel file 7 - 8
Cannot be scratched with a steel file 9 - 10


Conclusion
What was the hardest rock you tested? ____________________________________________________________

What was the softest rock you tested? _____________________________________________________________


Adapted from Silver, Burdett and Ginn, Inc. student workbook Grade Four


WORK STATION TWO
Rock Pets

Materials:

an ordinary collection of rocks, pebbles
aluminum pie plates (for sorting)
labels (for sorted collections: rough, smooth, striped, plain, round, sharp, etc.)
white glue (or hot glue gun(s) if adequate supervision)
tempera paints and brushes


Skills:

classifying and describing categories
comparing shape, size, texture, etc.
creating a new object from rocks


Methods:

Students brainstorm how rocks could be sorted, and then sort, and re-sort them accordingly. Individually, each student creates a rock pet or rock sculpture using white (or hot) glue, paint, yarn, eyes, etc. (Integrate with a Fine Arts sculpture unit, if possible)




WORK STATION THREE
Rock Formation

Look in the books that are provided in this station. When you find the necessary information, fill in the chart below. Complete sentences are not necessary - just record the facts.

Tip: remember to use the index and/or the table of contents to help you find the facts more quickly.


KIND OF ROCK DEFINITION EXAMPLE USES OF, OR CHARACTERISTICS TITLE OF BOOK AND PAGE NO.
Igneous



Sedimentary



Metamorphic







WORK STATION FOUR

  1. Follow your teacher's instructions for using the hammer to pound some pebbles into sand or crushed rock.
  2. Measure your sample of powdered rock. Measure out an equal sample of the potting soil provided at this station, and an equal amount of the garden dirt also provided.
  3. Carefully examine all three samples. Compare them in different ways. Fill in the chart below.


KIND OF SOIL

Our own powdered rock Garden Soil Commercial potting soil
Color


Texture (feel)


Smell


Weight






Brainstorm different ways to compare the different kinds of soil to complete the chart.




FOSSIL ACTIVITY

How to make a mold fossil and a cast fossil (activity planned for days 2 and 3 of Part Two of the Rocks, Minerals and Fossils unit for Grade Four)


Materials:

2 milk cartons, rinsed and dried
Plaster of Paris
spoons
water
shells, bones or other "fossils"
petroleum jelly
scissors
hammer
hand lens


Method:

  1. Cut one side off a milk carton. Cut the top off the other milk carton.
  2. Mix plaster of Paris and water in the second carton until it looks like soft ice cream. Pour it into the first, horizontal milk carton. Cover the shells, bones or "fossils" with petroleum jelly and press them halfway into the plaster. Try not to let blobs of plaster overlap the top edges of the "fossils." Let the plaster harden.
  3. Next day, remove the shells to see the imprints left in the plaster. This will be the mold in which to make the "fossil" replicas.
  4. Lightly cover the plaster and imprint with petroleum jelly. Mix more plaster to fill the imprints. Don't overflow the imprints with excess plaster. Let this plaster harden.
  5. Remove the milk carton. Remove the cast "fossil" from the mold. A hammer and gentle persuasion may be necessary. Using a hand lens, compare the two "fossils:" the original from which the mold was made, and the cast just produced.

(For further information, check p. 191 of the Silver Burdett science series, Grade Four book.)


INDEPENDENT LEARNING PROJECTS
AND/OR
SUGGESTED SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS




The number in front of each of these independent learning projects indicate which foundational and learning objective is being met.

3.2 a) have students design their own model for representing the Geologic Time Scale. (See pages T100-T101 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition)

2.2 b) have students design and make their own fossil game. (See T102 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition)

3.2 c) have students plan, create and present a "Parade of the Eras". (See page T102 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition)

3.1 d) have students create a pet rock in the form of a favorite dinosaur. (This could also be an integrated Fine Arts lesson on creating sculpture)

2.2 e) have students assemble and label for display a collection of rocks and/or fossils placing them in their groups according to the probable origin and/or location where they were found (fossil - land or water dweller � plant or animal)

2.4 f) have students make rubbings of various fossils found in the area they live. (i.e. - fossils found on stone buildings)

1.3 g) have students perform the "exploring" activity on page 64 of the student text book, Journeys in Science, to further explain that soil consists primarily of rock which has been broken down. (Weathering)

1.3 h) have students perform the "searching" activity on page 65 of the student text book, Journeys in Science, which has been broken down. (Weathering)

1.2 i) have students perform an activity to explain how sedimentary rock is formed. (See page T66 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition Enriching Activity #2)

1.3 j) have students perform "exploring" activity on page 67 of the student text book, Journeys in Science, to further explain that soil consists primarily of rock which has been broken down. (Erosion)

1.3 k) have students perform "exploring" activity on page 69 of the student text book, Journeys in Science, to further explain that soil consists primarily of rock which has been broken down. (Erosion)

1.3 l) have students use a rock tumbler to demonstrate its effect on rocks. (Weathering) (See page T69 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition)

1.3 m) have students demonstrate wind erosion by setting up an activity involving fine, loose sand. (See page T72 of the Journeys in Science Teacher's Edition)

1.2 n) have students grow a crystal garden. (See page 94 of the student workbook in Silver Burdett and Ginn)

1.2 o) have students perform an activity to explain how igneous rock is formed. (See page 181 of the Silver Burdett and Ginn Teacher's Edition)

1.2 p) have students perform an activity to explain how crystals are formed. (See page 184 of the Silver Burdett and Ginn Teacher's Edition)

1.2 q) have students perform an activity to explain how metamorphic rocks are formed. (See page 193 of the Silver Burdett and Ginn Teacher's Edition)