Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 10 Earth Processes


10. Earth Processes

While the ground beneath our feet may seem solid and stable, our Earth is actually an amazingly dynamic and fluid planet. Huge sections of the crust, called plates, are constantly on the move, spreading apart from each other at some places like under the Atlantic Ocean, sliding past each other at other places like the San Andreas Fault, and crashing together at still other places to lift up mountains like the Himalayas. This unit will teach you about such processes, the definition of a rock, and how rocks of different sorts are formed by earth processes.

Activity 10.1: What is a Rock?

Learn the definition of a rock and the three rock types (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic). Collect at least one of each of the three rock types.

Activity 10.2: Plate Tectonics and the Rock Cycle

Our earth is made of huge segments, or plates, that are constantly on the move, and as they move about, they help to recycle rocks and to create the processes and conditions that lead to igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Make a poster showing the rock cycle. In the poster, include specific examples of the different sorts of rocks you might find along different parts of the rock cycle.

Activity 10.3: Igneous Rocks

Learn about different sorts of igneous rocks, how they formed, and how they differ from one another, such as granite versus basalt versus obsidian versus pumice. Then do one of the following activities: a) use a sugar candy recipe to demonstrate the effects of quick versus slow cooling and gas bubbles in forming the texture of an igneous rock; b) make a plaster or clay volcano and set it off for your fellow club members; or c) make an igneous rock collection of 3 or more different types.

Activity 10.4: Sedimentary Rocks

Learn about wind and water erosion and deposition and chemical precipitates and evaporates in order to understand how sedimentary rocks form. Then do one of the following activities: a) make a precipitate or sandstone, conglomerate, and breccia and create a geologic column of these in a milk carton or observe sedimentary processes in nature or in the lab; b) make fossils with clay and plaster; or c) make a sedimentary rock collection of 3 or more different types.

Activity 10.5: Metamorphic Rocks

Learn about parent rocks and the formation of metamorphic rocks due to heat and pressure. Then do one of the following activities: a) using clays of different colors as your parent rocks, make a metamorphic rock with pressure and heat by twisting and rolling the clays together and then baking them in an oven; or b) make a metamorphic rock collection with 3 or more different types.