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Although I have developed a profound love for science I used to really dislike Earth science because my exploration of the topic was limited to books and worksheets when I was in school. I was introduced to inquiry based and experiential learning when I started teaching in John Adams Middle School’s science magnet program. I saw the impact providing opportunities to learn through hands-on activities had on students and since then, strive to create these types of experiences across all subjects.

Today, reminded me of how much I love exploring topics with students. While books are important and have great purpose, I find that investigating through “play” is so vital to any human being’s learning process. This morning, Thea and I “played” with igneous and sedimentary rock formation by making edible ones.

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Extrusive Igneous Lollipops

  • Sugar and Cream of Tartar = rock forming minerals
  • Stove = heat from inside the Earth
  • Stirring = forces inside the Earth that cause minerals to dissolve
  • Water = water
  • Cold Water Bath/Freezer = temperature closer to the surface/above the surface

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Sedimentary S’Mores Rice Krispy Treats

  • Bottom Layer: graham cracker/butter/marshmallow mixture represented sand and silt/clay like sediment compressed together by the force of rocks and water above it
  • Bottom Middle Layer: marshmallow, rice cereal mixture died brown using chocolate chips represented small rounded pebbles with silt/clay like sediment (affected by river action) compressed together by rocks and water above it
  • Top Middle Layer: marshmallow, rice cereal mixture represented another layer of small pebbles with silt/clay like sediment compressed together by rocks and water above it
  • Top Layer: marshmallows (large and miniature) and chocolate chips represented boulders and other rocks of various sizes that were recently deposited

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Through experimentation Thea caught on to the fact that the viscosity of the molten material (sugar solution) changed as it cooled. “Viscous” became a new vocabulary word for the week leading us to a discussion of what happens to lava/magma as it cools and types of volcanic eruptions. She also commented on how hard she needed to compress the sediment layers enforcing the idea that a lot of pressure is needed to compress sediment into rock. Now imagine how much the ocean and top layers of the ocean floor weigh. Would that compress the layers enough?

My favorite part of the entire lesson? Thea’s excitement for learning and her desire to share her edible rocks with her teammates later this afternoon. 🙂

– Brigitte Steinmetz (BLE Owner/Education Director)