What are Minerals?
Lesson 3 of 10
Objective: SWBAT explain the difference between rocks and minerals.
Now that my students know about the three types of rocks, it is time to introduce them to minerals. The idea behind this lesson is that rocks are made up of one or more minerals. The minerals are the components and are pure nonliving materials made up from one or more elements. Comparing this to a cookie makes sense to first graders because it becomes more simplistic - the cookie is the rock, and the ingredients are the minerals. Depending on which ingredients you use, you get different kinds of cookies.
This lesson aligns to Essential Standard 1.E.2.1, "Summarize the physical properties of Earth materials, including rocks, minerals, soils and water that make them useful in different ways." The essential question for today is "What is a mineral?"
To learn more about minerals, click here.
*Anchor chart paper/marker
*Access to Youtube
*1 cookie per student (made with different ingredients - some with milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, some with nuts depending on allergies, some with sprinkles, etc.)
*toothpicks and craft sticks
To introduce my students to minerals, I show this video which quickly explains what minerals are and shows lots of photographs of different minerals. It also lists some of the ways that minerals can be tested (such as hardness and color), as well as important uses of some minerals such as calcium for bone growth.
When we finish the video, I start a second anchor chart titled "Minerals" and I work with the class to come up with a simple definition of minerals (such as "a nonliving object that is formed from the Earth"). We revisit the Rock anchor chart and add a definition to it, now that we know that rocks are formed from one or more minerals.
During this activity, students use a model to discover what is inside a "rock cookie" that I made from a few different "minerals" (ingredients). I thought about having the students create their own cookie, but I decided that for them to act as a geologist it made more sense for me to make different cookies ahead of time and for them to use 'tools' (toothpicks, popsicle sticks) to record what is in their "rock". Using a model for this activity supports Science and Engineering Practice 2, as students distinguish between a model and the real object.
"Today, you are going to be a geologist and take a look inside a model of a rock. When scientists are working in the field, they use their journals and take notes. When geologists, who are scientists who study rocks and minerals, are looking at things what do you think they write down?"
We have a quick discussion about recording accurate colors, a detailed diagram, and other interesting or unusual things that we notice. Then I say,
"Each person is going to get their own 'rock'. The first thing to do is to draw a detailed picture with accurate colors, so I won't see anyone actually breaking their rock apart at first. You will leave it in the Ziploc bag to do this part. Then, you need to use the tools carefully to find out what is inside - the minerals. Take notes, draw pictures, and use labels to remember what you see!"
As the students work, I walk around and listen to conversations, help students to think about using accurate colors and labels, and listen to misconceptions. Recording information including thoughts and observations and drawing pictures supports Science and Engineering Practice 4.
After students have recorded their exploration, I say,
"Now, unlike a geologist, you can eat your rock!"
To end the lesson, I want to make sure that students understand that minerals are what makes up rocks. I say,
"Turn to your closest neighbor. Tell them what a mineral is, and then tell them what a rock is."
After a minute or two I say,
"Who would like to share with the class what 'minerals' they found in their rock today?"
The conversation at the end of this lesson is so important because students must make the connection between the cookie and the rock! Recording the information during the activity should make this connection clear, and revisiting it at the end of the lesson gives me a chance to listen for any misunderstandings that I need to address. Communicating information supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.