Investigating Rocks


Using Granite and Marble tile samples, students trace and draw exactly what they see. This forces students to take a closer look at the characteristics that will help them learn to classify igneous and metamorphic rocks. I also use landscape sandstone to include sedimentary rocks as part of the activity. In another part of the room each sample is under a microscope. Students add a magnified view of each sample to gain a more in depth understanding of these characteristics.


Students will learn first hand how to classify igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. By projecting the rocks on a screen specific characteristics can be pinpointed and emphasized. Students also learn that specific shapes (rounded crystals, sharp and angular crystals, rounded sand grains) are part of how rocks are identified and classified. This is directly connected to how rocks form. This also relates to crystal growth within rocks or cementing agents.


The materials are fairly inexpensive and often free. These can be obtained from tile companies throwing out broken tiles or contractors dong the same. A video cameral can provide enlarged photographs displayed around the room of classic examples of the types of rocks the students have investigated. Drawing paper and colored pencils are also necessary. I would also like to acquire a set of 30 hand lenses so students can get quality magnified views from their desks.

Other Information

This activity serves as an outstanding introduction to rock classification. Students will enjoy looking at the shiny surface of the tiles and be able to see the intricate internal structure of rocks. I could see easily displaying these at open house as an our introduction to rock classification.

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