A Rock Weathering Experiment You Can Do In Your Kitchen!

Every day, rocks are subjected to wind, rain and other mechanical processes that cause them to breakdown into smaller pieces and different forms. This process of weathering is part of the rock cycle and causes sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks to break down into smaller sediments and soil-sized particles. You can learn a about rock weathering right in your own kitchen! Try this fun experiment to learn more about the mechanical weathering of rocks and post your results in the comments below.

You will need:

  • Plastic Wrap
  • Clay
  • Water
  • Hand Magnifier
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Camera (optional)

Step 1: Moisten the clay with a small amount of water. You want the clay to absorb as much water as possible without being dripping wet. Add a small amount of water to the clay and knead it until the water is absorbed, repeating until the clay is saturated.

Step 2: Divide the clay into two equal pieces and roll it into a ball or form into a square.

Step 3: Wrap each piece of clay in plastic wrap.

Step 4: Place one piece of clay into the freezer and leave the other piece on a table or counter. Let the clay stay in the freezer overnight.

Step 5: The next day, remove the clay from the freezer and unwrap both pieces. Place the two balls of clay side-by-side and observe your results. Do the clay pieces look different after one day and then over time? If so, how? Write about your findings in a notebook and take pictures of the results after each day to see how the clay rock changes.

Step 6: Wrap each clay piece back up and put the one piece back into the freezer and repeat for several days. Observe the clay pieces each day and see how the cracks change over time.

Observation Hint:

The clay from the freezer should have the some cracks. Examine the clay with a hand magnifier to get a closer look at the cracks. The cracks result from the freezing and expanding water just as a rock that has water freeze in holes or existing cracks in the rock. Over time, the freezing and expanding of rainwater will cause a small crack in a rock to become big and allow the rock to split. If the frozen clay does not crack after several days, repeat the experiment with more water in the clay.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits!

Be Sociable, Share!

Rock Layer Folding Experiment

Although the land you stand on seems like it is firmly in place, it is actually moving. The Earth’s crust is divided up into pieces that are called “plates.” These plates are slowly moving around the Earth. While they are moving they sometimes bump into one another which cause the rocks on the plates to fold and push their way into mountains. All rock layers are originally created horizontally. This is a simple experiment that is great for showing the possible effects when pressure is applied to horizontal rock layers.

You Will Need:

  • Clay, several colors
  • Rolling pin or can of soda

Step 1: Form several different colors of softened modeling clay into even layers and stack them one on top of the other. You can make the layers as thick or thin as you like using the rolling pin or soda can.

Step 2: Using your hands, push the ends of the “rock layers” together to see what happens. Depending on the amount of pressure you apply and the direction that you hold your hands, the clay will form either a syncline or an anticline.

Synclines form when the ends of the rock layers turn up and the layers form a “U” shape.

Anticlines form when the ends of the rock layers turn down and the layers form an “∩” shape.

Variations:

  • Try forming some layers that are thick and some that are thin to see if there is a different in the effects of the pressure.
  • Rock layers which are very long may form both synclines and anticlines in a line, like a wave. Perform the experiment with different lengths of “rock layers” to see if both shapes will form.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits!

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Ask-A-Geologist Question & Answer #18: How do I teach rock and mineral identification when I’m not a geologist?

This week, homeschooling mom Sandra asked how she can teach rock and mineral identification when she is not a geologist. Our new book “Help, I Have to Teach Rock and Mineral Identification and I’m Not a Geologist!” is here to help. In this book, we break down all of the details you need to teach rock and mineral identification to elementary, middle and high school students.

Be Sociable, Share!

Metamorphic Rock Pressure & Heat Experiment

Metamorphic rocks are the rocks that were igneous or sedimentary and change either physically or chemically by heat, pressure or hot, mineral-rich water. The term metamorphic comes from the Greek words “meta” which means change and “morph” which means form. This is a great outdoor experiment for colder climates or indoors if you have a shaved ice machine. With this experiment, you can see how pressure and heat can change a rock using this this simple experiment with snow or ice chips!

You will need:

  • Light, fluffy snow or shaved ice (enough to make two, fist-sized snowballs)
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Camera (optional)

Step 1: Gather the snow into two loose snowballs.

Step 2: Wrap both hands around one of the snowballs and squeeze tightly for several seconds.

Step 3: Observe and document what happened to the snow or ice when you squeezed and heated it with your hands. Do the snowballs look different? If so, how?

Hint: When you squeezed the snowball, the snow melted and combined for form solid ice. The process of the snow melting and forming ice is a metamorphic process. The snow changed to from loose to compact ice because of the pressure from your hands. This is the same process that changes rocks like granite to gneiss.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits! You can find out more about metamorphic rock in our My Rockin Collection! Metamorphic Rocks Kit too.

Be Sociable, Share!

The Fizz Test for Limestone & Marble Rocks

Many rocks can look alike. Sometimes telling the difference between a limestone or marble and other rocks such as shale and quartzite can be difficult. One way geologists test the rocks is by performing the acid or “Fizz” test. Calcite is the main component of limestone rocks and its varieties like oolitic limestone, fossiliferous limestone, coquina and marble. The calcite mineral is made of calcium carbonate which reacts with acid. Other varieties of calcium carbonate minerals such as aragonite and dolomite will also fizz during this test.

You will need:

  • Household acid such as lemon juice or vinegar (lemon juice works best).
  • Minerals and rocks to test
  • Eye dropper or straws
  • Hand magnifier
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Camera (optional)

Step 1: Gather the samples you want to test. Some good choices are limestone, oolitic limestone, coquina and marble. You should see some “fizzing” with these samples.

Step 2: Drop, using a straw or dropper, or pour your acid on one rock sample at a time.

Step 3: Look through your hand magnifier right away to see the bubbles. The bubbles may be small so look closely.

Step 4: Observe and document your results. Do you see the bubbles? If so, what do they look like? The fizz is telling you that your rock contains calcium carbonate.

Teacher and Parent Tip: Use other samples such as shale, slate, and quartzite to observe samples which should not “fizz.” Mix up your samples and see if you can figure out what they are using the fizz test! If you have access to hydrochloric acid, it provides the best reaction with calcium carbonate but children should only use this acid under strict supervision.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits! Our My Rockin’ Collection Sedimentary Rocks will teach you about several varieties of limestone that fizz!

Be Sociable, Share!

Growing Salt Crystals is a Fun Geology Experiment for Kids (and adults, too)!

Hey Mini Me Geologists! Try this fun experiment to learn more about growing salt crystals. Did you know that the salt you put on your food is actually a mineral? Salt forms naturally by precipitation or evaporation. In this experiment, you will watch salt crystals form by precipitation because it is just more fun than watching water dry and leave salt behind, although you can try that method, too. Grab an adult to help you with the stove and boiling water but the rest you can do on your own. In nature, salt will precipitate from mineral-rich water in oceans or lakes so you will simulate ocean water to grow your crystals.

You will need:

  • Clean Jar
  • String (cotton works best)
  • Scissors
  • Tape (optional)
  • Pencil
  • 1-2 Cups boiling water (parents and teachers, this is your job)
  • 1-2 Cups table salt
  • Spoon
  • Notebook
  • Camera (optional)
  • Oven mitts (optional, but handy)

Step 1: Boil the water and then transfer it to your clean jar. You can boil the water on the stove or use a microwave. The important part is to make sure that the water is rapidly boiling before you begin Step 2. As you handle the jar, wear oven mitts or only touch the areas, like the rim, that are not overheated by the boiling water. We don’t want any burned fingers!

Step 2: Pour enough salt into the jar to saturate the water. Stir until all of the salt that can dissolve is dissolved. If you see salt crystals in the bottom of your jar that will not dissolve then you have probably saturated your water and are ready for Step 3.

Step 3: Tie a piece of string to a pencil and hang the string in the water. Rest the pencil across the top of your jar and tape it in place if necessary. Make sure that the string does not touch any of the salt at the bottom of the jar.

Step 4: Observe the jar over the next few hours. You should begin to see small crystals form on the string. Leave the string in the jar overnight.

Step 5: The next day, take the string out of the jar and observe if salt crystals have formed on the string. Salt crystals may take some time to get large so if you want to grow large crystals, replace the salt water solution daily. Don’t forget to document your experiment. We would love to see photos of your crystals and let us know how you do in the comments below.

Tip for Teachers: You can do this salt experiment in a classroom setting or a camp with great success. The salt crystals should form rapidly and if you use mason jars with lids the kids can take their solution home and observe for several days. Do not attempt sugar crystals in a classroom because you really need to dissolve the sugar on the stove top in order for the experiment to work.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits!

Be Sociable, Share!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Mini Me Geology!

We wish you a fun, relaxing weekend.

Be Sociable, Share!

We are proud to offer FREE Shipping!

Mini Me Geology is excited to announce that we are now offering free standard shipping on all order over $60.

This means you can get more rocks, minerals and fossils without wasting your money on shipping fees!  Start shopping now.

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Ask-a-Geologist Q&A Video #17: Can I Be a Geologist and How Do I Make My Dream Come True?

This week I am answering a question that I received from two readers, Alliondra and Alexandria. Their questions were so similar that I thought I would answer them together. They want to know:

Can I be a geologist some day and how can I make my dreams of becoming a geologist easier? In this video, I’ll tell you a little secret about how I came to be a geology major in college along with some tips on things you can do to prepare for college and your career.

Well girls, my answer to you is that if I can do it, you can do it too! I will tell you a secret though; I didn’t originally set out to be a geologist. When I went to college I thought that I would be a business major. My freshman year, I took a microeconomics class and a geology class as basic requirements and I hated my economics class and I loved my geology class. Those two classes determined my future.

Based on your emails, I cannot tell how old either of you are but if you are not in college yet, the best things you can do is to learn about different areas of geology. Because geologists can have many, many different types of jobs, you do not have to be an expert in every area to have a long and successful career. You might find that you love environmental geology and dislike petrology or you might love earthquake research or mineralogy and want to stay away from environmental assessments. That is one of the best things about this field is that you can choose your favorite area for your career.

If you are still in a school that has science fairs, I would encourage you choose a different geology topics each year and try to find out what you love the most. If you need ideas, you can always contact me here at Mini Me Geology and I will help you come up with ideas for a project.

If you are in college or heading to college soon, research the different schools where you have some interest and see what their geology departments are like. You will find that each school may have different strengths depending on their professors, research and even their location.

Remember that you can always contact me if you have more specific questions about a geology project or choosing a college program. I hope you girls will let me know how your studies are going and what type of geology you plan to pursue.

Remember to keep your questions coming in through the Dig Into Geology section on our website or email us at rockinfo@minimegeology.com. We are planning to shoot some Ask-a-Geologist videos on the beach in just a few week. So, send us your beach questions!  Also, please comment below and subscribe to our channel so that you get the next installment of ask a geologist. Until next time, rock on everybody.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

I Really, Really Hate Rock and Mineral Clip Art

Do you love clip art? I do…sort of. I know that this might not be a popular stance. However, when it comes to some things, like rock and mineral products; I HATE clip art. I know that a lot of product manufacturers use clip art because it is readily available and “cutesy,” but a real rock or mineral sample is nothing like a blob drawing of a rock with feet and eyes. It drives me crazy that people give kids (even young ones) pictures of nondescript “rocks” and personify them thinking that it will interest kids in science.

Do you know what actually gets kids excited about rocks and mineral? Actual rocks and minerals! If you cannot give them actual samples, then pictures of real rocks. Kids are smart and they don’t need clip art to learn. I do not mind illustrations of geologist processes like the inside of a volcano, but please, please don’t put eyes on the magma.

Be Sociable, Share!