Idea for Use in the Classroom

Share the infographic with students and as a class discuss the processes shown.

Create groups of three and provide each with ten to fifteen milk chocolate chips, ten to fifteen dark chocolate chips, ten to fifteen white chocolate chips, a plastic knife, a paper plate, a sheet of parchment paper, a hotplate, and some heavy books. Throughout the activity, have students write down what stage of the rock cycle they are reenacting. At each step, have students refer to the infographic to identify the “geologic” process they carried out on their “rocks” and where on or in the Earth these processes occur. 

For sedimentary “rocks,” have students cut different chips and move them to the parchment paper, one color at a time, to weather, erode, and transport the “rocks.” Have them fold the parchment over the chip layers and place some heavy books on top, leaving them for a few minutes. Have students remove the books and observe the “rocks.” Ask them to use the infographic to identify what processes they just reenacted and what "rocks" they have formed.

For metamorphic “rocks,” have students fold the parchment over again and have a group member tightly press the paper between their hands for about thirty seconds and continue until everyone has done so. Have them unfold the parchment and record what they see. Ask students to refer to the infographic and identify the processes they mimicked. 

For igneous “rocks,” have students rewrap the chips in the parchment and set them on the hotplate for thirty seconds. Then have students carefully remove the parchment package and set it aside to cool for at least ten minutes. Instruct them to gently unwrap their “rock” and record their observations. Ask students to refer to the infographic and identify the processes they just simulated.

chemical
Noun

molecular properties of a substance.

clast
Noun

fragment of a rock, often broken off through weathering.

compact
Verb

to pack tightly together.

cycle
Noun

regularly occurring event that repeats over a period of time.

deform
Verb

to put out of shape or distort.

Noun

act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

extrusive igneous rock
Noun

any rock derived from magma that was poured out or ejected at the Earth’s surface.

foliation
Noun

layering that occurs when pressure squeezes flat or long minerals so they become aligned.

Noun

rock formed by the cooling of magma or lava.

intrusive igneous rock
Noun

plutonic rock; formed from magma forced into older rocks at depths within the Earth’s crust, which then slowly solidifies below the Earth’s surface.

metamorphic rock
Noun

rock that has transformed its chemical qualities from igneous or sedimentary.

organic
Adjective

composed of living or once-living material.

Noun

processes that explain the relationship between the three rock types: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Any rock type can become any other.

Noun

rock formed from fragments of other rocks or the remains of plants or animals.

Noun

the breaking down or dissolving of the Earth's surface rocks and minerals.