Day 3 – Rocking with Science!

My daughter loves to collect rocks! No matter where we are, she is always picking up rocks and putting them in her pockets, or my pockets or purse. They don’t even have to be pretty rocks, in fact she often picks up chunks of concrete on a regular basis. I also love rocks and try to collect a rock unique to an area when I’m on vacation. My husband also loves rocks, although as a paleontologist he tends to be interested in fossils and sedimentary rocks only. So, I thought rocks would be a great topic for today!

rock cycle

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What sort of rock can you find in your neighborhood? Fences, foundations, walls, pathways?

We started off with a rock hunt in the neighborhood…by having a different topic to focus on for each walk you get to combine science with your physical activity and fresh air time. However, what I didn’t really think about it that all of the rocks in our neighborhood are the same! We live in a neighborhood of old homes that are built from stone and lots of stone walls, but all of the stone is Wissahickon Schist. It is a very pretty rock, with lots of the mineral mica in the rock which gives it a sparkle. Unfortunately, not much diversity on this walk. The best thing we found was an area that had been dug up and had big pieces of the mineral mica, which is cool and can be peeled off into really thin, transparent pieces.

When we got home, we did spend some time looking at other rocks that we have collected looking for differences and seeing how much schist we have collected over the years.

 

Some other things you can do with rocks:

  • If you also like to collect rocks, think about making it more scientific. In a real science collection, each piece has a lot of information that goes along with it, including date collected, location collected, name of collector, a written description of the piece, ideally a drawing or picture of the pieces, and any notes about where it was found that might help to identify the pieces. If you are trying to limit stuff your kids bring inside, I like to use an egg carton for the collection. This limits the size of the rock pieces that can be collected.
  • Rocks come in three main types, Metamorphic, Igneous and Sedimentary. Rocks can also change from one type to another through the Rock Cycle. Wissahickon Schist is a metamorphic rock, check out the diagram to help you see how different types of rocks are formed (image at top of post).
  • You can also take a rock hunt in your house! Go through your house and see what you have that is made from rocks and minerals. It is a lot more then you would think….remember that everything that is metal or glass comes from rock, and most plastics are made from petroleum/oil.

– Written by Stacy Carr-Poole, Executive Director at Bucks Audubon

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