Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rocks and Minerals Unit: Gooey Science

We're coming to the end of our adventures with rocks and minerals, and I'm finally getting around to sharing some of our activities with you.

You'll notice that I've listed the books we've used for this unit in my righthand sidebar, but I want to highlight a couple of them here.

Rocks in His Head is the true and inspiring story of the author's father, whose life passion was learning about rocks and minerals. He owned a filling station in the days prior to the Great Depression. He lost everything as a result of the hard economic times, but he continued to provide for his family by taking any jobs he could find. His love of rocks eventually led him to be hired as the janitor at the local science museum, which eventually sent him to college and paved the way for him to fulfill his lifelong dream of "doing something with rocks". We thoroughly enjoyed reading this heartwarming story, and learned a thing or two about rocks along the way. We used some of the great ideas from the Homeschool Share unit for this title as well.

One of the first things we did in our unit was to learn about the earth's layers. I wanted us to do something hands-on to model this, and I found an edible project that looked to be just the thing. It turned out to be more of a lesson in what happens when science goes wrong. (Note to self: Never try this recipe again unless it's on an absolutely dry day with zero humidity!) If you live up in the Rockies somewhere, maybe this will work for you. :)

What You Need:

-1/4 cup of powdered milk (Non-instant is best, but instant will do.)
-1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
-1/4 cup honey
-1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam
-1/2 cup chocolate chips
-1/2 cup sesame seeds or graham cracker crumbs
-large bowl
-measuring cups
-waxed paper
-dull dinner knife


-Mix together the peanut butter and powdered milk in the bowl.
-Add 1 tsp. of honey in order to make a stiff dough. You may need more or less honey depending on how stiff or runny the peanut butter is. Keep adding honey a little at a time until the dough feels like clay dough.

-Scoop up a small, round spoonful of dough and roll it into a ball.

-Put the ball down on a piece of waxed paper and carefully cut it in half. Be careful not to squash the ball when you cut it.

-Use the tip of the spoon handle to scoop out a small hole in the center of each half of the ball. The hole should be about the size of the tip of your little finger.

-Use the spoon handle tip to put a small amount of jam into the holes you have scooped out.

-Now place a single chocolate chip in the middle of the jam in one of the halves of the ball.

-Place the two halves of the ball back together and roll it a little in your hands to seal the seam.

-Roll the balls in sesame seeds or crushed graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly coated.

-Cut the ball in half again to see the layers: core(chocolate chip), outer core (jam), mantle (peanut butter mixture), and crust (cracker crumbs).

As you can see, ours did not turn out well. We could never get the peanut butter to form a stiff dough, and as a result couldn't really roll it into a ball. We did the best we could and ended up with "mounds". It was very humid the day we made these, so I'm assuming that had something to do with it. In spite of how these turned out, the kids did gain an understanding of the earth's layers.

We read The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth prior to our gooey experiment. It is an excellent and fun introduction to the earth's layers. We love Magic School Bus around here!

That's all I've got time to post right now. More tomorrow...


1 comment:

  1. Oh I love this!!! I'm wondering if you could have stuck it in the freezer to harden it a little bit?


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