In this unit, we will learn about matter – the atoms and molecules that make up everything around us. We will also look at minerals – naturally occurring, solid substances that have a distinct chemical makeup – and how these miners can combine together to form rocks.
As we study many of the different rocks and minerals that make up our planet, we will learn how rocks and minerals can be identified based on their physical properties. We will also see the different methods by which rocks can be formed and how rocks can be changed through the process of the rock cycle.
Lesson 1: What is Matter? In this unit, we talk about matter as being anything that has mass and takes up space. Matter as combinations of atoms and molecules makes up the world around us. Matter generally exists in one of three states: solids, liquids, and gasses. We will look at these states and the transitions between each. In lesson 1, we will also be discussing how we can measure the mass, or amount of matter in an object. An objects mass can be measured using a balance scale. We will also look at the measurement of volume – the amount of space that an object takes up. Liquid volumes can be measured using graduated cylinders, while the volume of solid objects can be measured through a process called displacement. The ability to accurately measure mass and volume are important skills for many of our lab activities, and students will have the opportunity during this lesson to practice measuring the mass and volume of several different objects. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 2: Properties of Matter All matter has many different properties, or characteristics, that allow us to describe, classify, and identify materials and other substances. Physical properties such as color, texture, and density can usually be observed and measured easily. Chemical properties such as flammability, reactivity, or oxidation can only be observed through a chemical reaction. Chemical reactions are the processes that change a substance into a new substance. In lesson2 , we will be observing and describing several physical and chemical properties of a variety of different objects and materials. We will see how substances that may look alike at first can be identified using these different properties. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 3: Minerals and Their Properties In our third lesson of this unit, we will be learning about minerals: the naturally-occurring, solid substances that make up the rocks in Earth’s crust. Although minerals are nonliving materials, they are very important for our planet. Each type of mineral has its own specific chemical composition and crystalline structure that helps us identify it. Geologists, or scientists who study the earth and its rocks, use a mineral’s physical properties to help identify it. These physical properties include color, density, streak, hardness, luster, and cleavage. We will look at how these properties are observed and use them to identify a variety of different mineral samples. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 4: Rocks and Their Classification In lesson 4 we will be learning about rocks: collections of minerals formed together into a single solid object. Rocks make up much of our planet – particularly its outer crust. A rock can be formed from one single type of mineral, but most often an individual rock contains several different minerals. A rock’s appearance and physical properties depends not only on the minerals that make it up, but also on how the rock was formed. This lesson will introduce students to the basic types of rocks that will be studied in more detail in future lessons. Students will have the opportunity to look at samples of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and will be able to compare several of their physical properties. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 5: Igneous Rocks In lesson 5, we will be learning about igneous rocks. Formed from molten rock from beneath earth’s crust, igneous rocks make up much of our planet’s surface. Common igneous rocks such as granite are often used for construction because of their hardness and durability. In this lesson we will be learning more about how igneous rocks are formed. Intrusive igneous rocks are formed from magma that cools beneath Earth’s surface. Because they cool slowly, these rocks will often contain large mineral crystals. Extrusive igneous rocks, on the other hand, form from lava that erupts to Earth’s surface. These rocks will be much smoother, with fewer visible crystals. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 6: Sedimentary Rocks In lesson 6, we will explore sedimentary rocks, our second category of rocks. Sedimentary rocks are formed over long periods of time through the processes of erosion and deposition. These rocks will often be softer than igneous rocks with distinct layers from the sediment that formed them. Because of how they form, sedimentary rocks can also contain the fossilized remains of plants and animals that become buried in the sediment before it hardens. The three types of sedimentary rocks: clastic, chemical, and organic, form differently; but all have similar characteristics. In this lesson we will examine how sedimentary rocks form and look at examples of several types of sedimentary rock. Students will also have to opportunity to model the processes by which sedimentary rocks can be formed. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 7: Metamorphic Rocks As the tectonic plates that make up the earths crust move and shift, existing rocks near the surface can be forced deeper into the crust. These geologic processes can subject rocks to intense heat and pressure causing the rocks to be visibly changed. These changes create a category of rocks known as metamorphic rocks. In lesson 7, we will observe a variety of metamorphic rocks and compare their properties to the rocks they were formed from. We will also compare the two categories of metamorphic rocks. Foliated metamorphic rocks have visible bands of different colors and textures, while non-foliated metamorphic rocks have a more consistent appearance throughout. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 8: The Rock Cycle The final lesson of this unit describes the important geologic process called the rock cycle. Because our earth’s crust is constantly moving and changing, the rocks that make it up undergo changes as well. Mountains can be eroded with the sediment forming new sedimentary rocks. Volcanic eruptions form igneous rock from other rocks that have been melted deep beneath Earth’s surface. Heat and pressure can change existing rocks into new metamorphic rocks. Through the process of the rock cycle a rock can, over time, be changed into any other of the three types of rocks. In this lesson, we will explore the connections between the different processes that for the rocks that make up our planet. Download PDF Notes
Resources and Other Documentation
Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness Hardness is an important physical property when identifying minerals. Mohs Scale was created in 1812 by Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist. This scale gives numerical hardness values between 1 and 10 based on a mineral’s ability to scratch or be scratched by minerals with known designated hardness. On Mohs Scale, the very soft mineral talc is given a value of 1. Diamond, a very hard mineral has a hardness value of 10. A softer mineral will be able to be scratched by a harder mineral, allowing us to determine its numerical hardness value. Use this copy of Mohs Scale to help determine a mineral’s hardness for our mineral identification activities. You may wish to print a copy to include in your science journal.
Unit 3 Guided Notes The guided notes for each unit provide students with a printable copy of notes summarizing the content from each class. Blanks are inserted into the notes where key facts or content should appear. As information is covered during class, students should write missing content into the blanks to complete the guided notes. These guided notes may also be used as a review tool for unit tests. Students may print a copy of the guided notes and fill in the missing content. This can be checked using the complete PDF notes for each lesson.