In Mosa Mack’s Rock Cycle unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the properties of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and the forces responsible for creating them. Forces include heat, pressure, cooling, weathering and erosion.
Students work together to complete a vocabulary mind map before helping Mosa Mack solve the mystery of the Sunset Topaz. By the end of The Solve, students discover properties of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and the forces responsible for creating them. (75 mins)
Students journey through the rock cycle by using crayons to model the properties and formation of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock. (120 mins)
Students complete three activities to construct an explanation, based on evidence from rock strata, for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s history. (140 mins)
Students develop and design a solution to prevent or mitigate the impact of weathering and erosion on a famous monument made of rock. (150 mins)
Next Generations Science Standards
- Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
- Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
- Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old history.
- Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
Science & Engineering Practices
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Developing and Using Models
- Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Disciplinary Core Ideas
- Earth’s Materials and Systems
- The History of Planet Earth
Cross Cutting Concepts
- Cause and Effect
- Connections to Nature of Science
- Scale, Proportion and Quantity
- Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems
- Stability and Change
- Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
- “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
- For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
- Students may think that rocks can only move through the rock cycle in one direction. Emphasize that each type of rock can become any other type of rock depending on the forces that act on it. Even an igneous rock can remelt and become another type of igneous rock.
- Students may assume that weathering and erosion are the same force. Emphasize to students that weathering is the breaking down of rock while erosion is the process of transporting the broken-down sediments.
- Students may initially believe that all rocks are the same. Emphasize that there are different types of rocks that have different properties.
- Students may believe that all rocks of the same type are identical. Emphasize that even within rock types, rocks can look different. This is a result of the circumstances led to their formation.
- Igneous Rock
- Sedimentary Rock
- Metamorphic Rock
- Eric Pyle, PhD
Professor, Department of Geology & Environmental Science James Madison University
- Powerpoints for Make and Design
- Vocabulary Cards
- Solve Student Handout
- Make Student Handout
- Design Student Handout
- Vocabulary Mind Map