Thursday, March 10, 2016

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STEM Challenge: Sedimentary Rocks Model

This STEM Challenge is inspired by a geology class I'm teaching for kindergarten - 2nd grade homeschoolers in our area.  Last week we learned about sedimentary rocks, and I realized my plans for a model could easily be adapted to a STEM activity that kids of all ages (from preschoolers to adults) would love!

The Challenge: Create an edible sedimentary rock model!

You could use so many different supplies, but here is what I provided:

M&M's, mini marshmallows, graham crackers, and cupcake liners.

Sedimentary Rock STEM Activity

How does this line up with STEM?


** Pressure from smashing the edible sedimentary rock forces the candies and cookie pieces into the marshmallow while lowerimg the melting point of the marshmallow.  The marshmallow then sticks everything together!

** We also covered the science behind sedimentary rock formation before the modeling activity.  You could also do it in this order, or you could discuss how sedimentary rocks are formed at the same time as you make the models.  Either way, I had large samples of sedimentary rocks for the kids to look at, touch, and investigate.  We talked about these points:

1- Sedimentary rocks are made by smashing or sticking rocks and minerals together.
2-  Earth’s history is stored in layers of sedimentary rocks.  Most fossils are contained in sedimentary rock.
3- Common sedimentary rocks (these are the samples I brought): sandstone, shale, breccia, conglomerate, limestone, iron ore, fossiliferous limestone, coal
4- Quartz and calcite are minerals that often "glue" sedimentary rocks together

TECHNOLOGY:  You could let your kids use tools to smash their sedimentary rocks together, take pictures of their rocks, or make a video of the process!

ENGINEERING:  Designing and creating a model.

MATH:  There are loads of options to add a math component to this project!  You could have your kids research how old the sedimentary rocks are in your area (oops...that's math and technology!), have them calculate how much their edible sedimentary rock cost, make a giant pie-sized edible sedimentary rock and cut it into fractions, or something else!  I'd love to know how you add math to this activity!

This activity goes great with my book A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze: A Rock Cycle Adventure!

This book introduces the rock cycle and three types of rocks with a hilarious story that kids of all ages are loving! It's been a huge hit with audiences from preschoolers all the way up through high school!  You can get it on Amazon or Turtle Trails Publishing!

This week, the Early Elementary Blogging Team is sharing loads of STEM ideas!  Be sure to check out these other great bloggers STEM activities:

Child-led STEAM Density Investigation at Life Over C's
Snack Time Engineering Easy STEAM Project for Kids at Handmade Kids Art
STEM Books for Teaching/Homeschooling Kids at The Jenny Evolution
STEM Activities for Kids in the Kitchen at iGame Mom
PEEPS STEAM Activities at Schooling a Monkey
How to Make a Compass at Parenting Chaos
STEM Challenge: Edible Sedimentary Rocks Model at Preschool Powol Packets
Math Magic: Finding Center of a Circle at Planet Smarty Pants
Tinker Toys STEM Pulley at Sugar Aunts
Hot Chocolate Science at Creative Family Fun

I may share at any of these parties!

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