Category Archives: Year 7 Materials From The Earth

Materials From The Earth – Part VII – Rock Cycle

Rock Cylcle

Today’s learning objectives:

  1. To understand how fossils are formed
  2. The understand how sedimentary rocks are formed and may contain fossils
  3. Understand how rocks turn from one type to another in the Rock Cycle.

Task 1

Make sure that you are caught up on the last lesson’s tasks. You should:

  • have written a description of how sedimentary rocks (like sandstone) are formed (from sand).
  • have written a short description of how fossils are formed in sedimentary rock. If you need to you can watch this video again.

Task 2.

Watch this video on the rock cycle. You can also find information about the rock cycle on the BBC Bitesize website and the Geological Society Website for Schools.

2.1 – Draw a diagram of the rock cycle, explaining how rock types turn into one another.

Materials From The Earth – Part VI – Sedimentary Rocks & Fossils

Lesson Objectives – by the end of this lesson you will:

  1. understand how sediments get stuck together to form sedimentary rocks
  2. understand how sandstone and limestone are formed
  3. know that fossils are the shapes of dead organisms preserved in sedimentary rocks


There are 3 tasks for today’s lesson, you will complete them all in a circus, one at a time.

Task 1 – Sand & Sandstone

girl experimentwriting task

This is an investigation and writing task.

You will have a tray of damp sand, do the following things, observe what happens and write down your findings:

1. Observe the sand with a hand lens. What structure does the sand have?

2. Take a handful of sand and squeeze it as hard as you can.  What happens?

3. Carefully examine the squeezed sand. What has happened to it?

4. Can you see a shiny coating on the grains of sand?  These are mineral deposits that were dissolved in the water and are left behind when the water is squeezed out. Eventually these mineral deposits would cement the grains of sand together.  What would happen to the grains of sand if they were stuck together?

5. We can experiment with different types of cement by mixing sand with a) plaster of paris, b) clay – see what happens to pellets of sand mixed with different cement.

6. Take a look at your pet rock – is it a sedimentary rock, how big are the grains?


Task 2 – Different Sedimentary Rocks

investigatewriting task


This is an internet research task.

There are many different types of sedimentary rocks, you are going to do some research about some of them. Draw the table below in your books and use the The Geological Society website for schools to help fill in the information.   Does any of this information help you identify your pet rock?

sedimentary table


Task 3. How are fossils formed?

investigate writing taskdrawing


This is a research, writing and drawing task.

1. Watch this video, about how dinosaur fossils are formed in sedimentary rocks.

2. Explain in your own words how mold and cast fossils are formed.

3. Using your understanding of how igneous and sedimentary rocks are formed, can you explain why don’t we find fossils in igneous rocks?

4. What type of rock is your pet rock? Does your pet rock contain a fossil? How do you know? Could it contain a fossil?

5. Take a look at some of the fossils we have in class. Draw a sketch of your favorite fossil.


6. Extension – do some research on your favourite fossil – what animal is it? How long ago did it live?   Some ammonites (see picture above) lived 100 million years ago, that is older than the dinosaurs!



Materials From The Earth – Part V – Weathering & Moving

Lesson Objectives – by the end of this lesson you will understand how:

  1. water and sunshine can break rocks apart.
  2. plant roots can break rocks apart.
  3. rocks are carried and broken by moving water.



Weathering is the word given to the breaking and changing of rocks by natural processes.  We learned about one of those processes in Part IV, acid rain.  Today we are going to learn about other types of weathering:


Task 1.

investigatewriting taskdrawing

This is a personal research task, also a writing or drawing task.

Below is some information, and resources (videos and web-pages) about different types of weathering.

1.1 Read the information below, then either:

a) Write a description of what happens in each type of weathering in your book, this could be under headings, or as a table.


b) draw a poster with pictures/cartoons which describe the 4 types of weathering.

There are 4 main types in all, they are:

1. Onion-skin weathering.

onion-skin weathering

onion-skin weathering

This is where changes in temperature (hot during the day and cold at night), cause the rock to crack and break off in layers.  This is common in countries where it is very hot during the day and very cold at night, such as desert countries.

Can you guess from the picture why it’s called “onion-skin” weathering?

2. Freeze-Thaw Weathering.

cracked rock from freeze-thaw

cracked rock from freeze-thaw

This is more common in the UK, where we don’t have that much heat during the day, but we do have lots of rain and it often gets cold enough for water to freeze. When water freezes it expands. If there is a crack in a rock full of water, then the freezing water will make that crack bigger.  Then it thaws out and fills with water again, before freezing and making the crack bigger. This process continues until the rock breaks in half.

You can find out more about freeze-thaw weathering on this video, this video, or on the BBC bitesize website.

3. Acid Rain Weathering.

Acid Rain wore away this statue on Bath Abbey

Acid Rain wore away this statue on Bath Abbey

In the last lesson you tested rocks for weather chemical weathering by acid rain affected them, so you know now how acid rain effects some types of rocks, and buildings and statues made of those types of rocks.

You can read more about acid rain on BBC Bitesize

4. Biological Weathering.

A Tree Growing in a Rock

A Tree Growing in a Rock

Biological weathering is where rocks are slowly broken apart by growing trees and other plants. The roots, in searching for moisture grow into cracks and as the roots grow the cracks get bigger. You may have seen this for yourself on a small scale, where paving slabs on the pavement or on patios are moved and broken by growing trees and plants. There are some impressive pictures of biological weathering here.

Erosion, Abrasion and Transportation. 

Watch this video which shows the connection between weathering and erosion by rivers and glaciers.

Small pieces of rock can be transported by wind, glaciers and rivers.

Task 2


Abrasion of rocks by water, wind and ice, causes rocks to become smooth and rounded as they bounce into one another. Take a look at your pet rock

2.1 Is your pet rock round and smooth, or jagged and pointy?

2.2. Do you think that your pet rock has been moved by water, wind or ice?

Task 3.

thinkingwriting taskpair-work-icon

A thinking, discussion and writing task.

Dr Wilkinson has set up a model river, in small groups take a look at the model river, and the pieces of rocks being moved and transported.

3.1 – Observe where the water is moving fastest, what size rocks can be found there?

3.2 – Observe where the water is moving slowest, what size rocks can be found there?

3.3 – Which rock size is moved the furthest along the model river?

3.4  – How far do you think your pet rock could have been moved?  How far could your rock have moved if there was a really big river? Or a glacier?

Materials From The Earth – Part IV – Rock Hardness & Chemical Weathering

Lesson Objectives – By the end of this lesson you will:

  1. test rocks for hardness and chemical weathering.
  2. understand that different rocks have different hardnesses.
  3. understand that some rocks are erroded quickly by acid rain.


Rock Hardness

You may have already noticed from holding them in your hands, that different rocks have different hardnesses. Small bits of some of them come off in your hands, whilst others are much harder to rub off grains.

Geologists (the name for people who study rocks) are able to order rocks in terms of hardness by scratching the rocks with different substances, or by scratching the rocks against each other. The harder rock will leave a scratch on the softer rock.

Task 1 – Order your rocks for hardness

girl experimentgroup work

This is an experiment and group work task.  (Note: If yours is a decorative rock from home, which you don’t want to get damaged, use a school rock for this test instead).

1.1 On your table gently scratch your pet rocks against each other.

1.2 Decide as a group, which one cannot be scratched by any of the others, this is the hardest rock.

1.3 As a Group decide on the answer to these questions:

  • Which rock type (igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic) is the hardest rock?
  • Which rock type (igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic) is the softest rock?

Acid Rain

Rainwater is naturally slightly acidic, the natural acids in rain can chemically react with types of rocks to wear them away. This can cause statues made from these rocks to wear away or for caves to form underground where one rock type has been chemically worn away over millions of years.

wookey hole

Wookey Hole caves are formed where Limestone is chemically worn away underground.

Acid Rain wore away this statue on Bath Abbey

Acid Rain wore away this statue on Bath Abbey


Task 2

girl experimentpair-work-iconwriting task

This is an experimental task, a pair-work task, and a writing task.


2.1 Add small drops of hydrocholoric acid onto a class rock.

2.2 Write down the name of the rock (and what type it is), and what happens when you added the acid (you may want to use a hand lens to look carefully).

2.3 Repeat 2.1 & 2.2 for other rocks.

2.4 Make a list of rocks which react with acid. Do they have anything in common?

2.5 Test your pet rock? Write down what happens when acid is added to your pet rock?

2.6 Make sure you rinse your pet rock before you put it back in your bag.

2.7 Rain is only slightly acidic, not as much as the acid we just added.  Why did we use such strong acid in class?


Task 3. Statues

Me no Dum Dum

“Me no dum dum”

thinkingwriting task

This is a thinking and writing task

You have been approached by a local sculptor to recommend a type of rock for his new statue, his statue is going to be outdoors, and needs to last a long time, but he doesn’t have much time to carve it.

3.1 What characteristics does the stone for his statue need to have?  Should the rock be hard or soft, should it react with acid or not react with acid?  Does it have to look nice?

3.2 Which type of rock would your recommend to the sculptor for his statue?


 Task 4 – Extension Task – Actual rocks used for statues.


Investigate on the internet, the types of rocks that are commonly used for statues and why these rocks are used.

Materials from the Earth – Part III – Rock Permeability

Lesson Objectives – By the end of this lesson you will be able to: 

  1. test rocks for their permeability.
  2. explain why the shape of rock grains make them permeable.
  3. predict whether your pet rock is permeable, and test that prediction.

Permeability  (per·me·a·bil·i·ty)

Permeability means how easily water can pass through something.  Some rocks are permeable to water.  But some rocks are not. Today we are going to investigate which ones are able to absorb the most water, and which can hold no water at all.
Task 1. Testing Rock Permeability 
girl experimentgroup work
This is an experimental task and a teamwork task.
For each rock that you test, you will need to do the following:
  1. Weigh the dry rocks on the balance. Note down the dry weight (A).
  2. Place the rocks in water for at least 10 minutes, to give them plenty of time to soak up any water.**
  3. Take the rocks out of the water and dry them on a paper towel to remove any surface water.
  4. Weigh the rocks again. Note down the weight after soaking (B).
  5. Calculate the mass of water absorbed (C), and the amount of water absorbed per gram.

Note down all your results in a table like this, in your books.


** – While you are soaking your rocks, you can check you have completed tasks from Lesson II to the best of your ability.

Task 2. Explaining why some rocks are permeable.

thinkingwriting task pair-work-icon

This is a thinking , discussion and writing task.

Take a close look at the rocks which were most permeable, what shape are the grains in these rocks?  Look at the grains of those rocks that are not impermeable (not permeable), what shape are those grains.

Dr Wilkinson is going to show you a demonstration that may help explain why some rocks are permeable, and others are not.

Watch the demonstration, then write down why some rocks are permeable and others are not.  Which types of rock are mostly permeable?

Task 3. Predict whether your pet rock is permeable or not, and test your prediction.

thinkinggirl experiment

This is a thinking and experimenting task.  From what you now know about rock permeability, examine your pet rock from home and predict whether it will be permeable or not.

  1. Write down your prediction.
  2. Using the same instructions as Task 1 – Test whether your rock is permeable.

Was your rock permeable? Was your prediction correct? If not, why not?

Materials From The Earth – Part II – Types of Rock

Lesson Objectives

  1. Describe the way different rock types are formed.
  2. Recall that rocks are made of grains.
  3. Describe the different appearance of grains in different rock types.


Did you know that there are three different types of rock?  The three different types of rock are called igneoussedimentary, and metamorphic. These classifications depend on how the rock was formed.

Igneous Rocks.

An igneous rock

Igneous rocks are formed when hot, melted rock underground (called magma) comes to the surface of the earth and cools down into a rock. This might happen just under the surface of the earth, or it might happen on top of the surface, following a volcanic eruption! When the magma cools down, crystals are formed in the rock, and this is how we identify igneous rocks.

This video explains how igneous rocks are formed.


Sedimentary Rocks


Sandstone, a sedimentary rock

Sedimentary rocks are formed when grains of rock (sediment) are washed into the sea.  The weight of more and more sediment landing on top causes the sediment grains at the bottom to stick together. This is a process that can take many millions of years to happen. The grains in sedimentary rock can be different sizes, but are often rounded. This is how we identify sedimentary rocks.

This video explains how sedimentary rocks are formed.


Metamorphic Rocks

A metamorphic Rock

Metamorphic rocks are rocks that have been changed from one type of rock (either sedimentary or igneous) into a new type of rock. It’s pretty difficult to change rocks, it requires either huge pressures or very hot conditions. This happens deep underground, where the pressure of the rocks above and the heat from the centre of the earth change rocks from one type to another.  The pressure often makes the rock grains all line up, so often (but not always), metamorphic rocks have layers.

This video explains how metamorphic rocks are formed. 


Task 1

writing task


This is a writing task. In your book, draw a table comparing the different types of rocks (Igneous, Sedimentary & Metamorphic – these links are to BBC Bitesize and may also help).  Your table should include the following information:

  • how the rocks are formed
  • what visual characteristics do these rocks have
  • some common forms of these rock types (Extension)


Task 2

writing taskdrawing


This is a writing and drawing task.  For your homework, you brought in a pet rock to study during this unit.  Do the following things with your rock:

  1. Take a picture of your rock with your iPad.
  2. Draw a pencil sketch of your rock on one half of a piece of paper.
  3. Use a hand-lens to examine your rock closely – examine the types of grains that make up your rock
  4. Draw a close up sketch of the grains of your rock on the other half of the paper.
  5. Using what we have learned today about the different grains in different types of rock, write down whether you think your rock is an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock.  Why do you think that?



Materials From The Earth – Part I


Welcome to the Materials from the Earth unit.


The material we get a lot from the ground is rocks, so we will learn a lot about rocks.  We will learn about different types of rocks; how they’re formed and changed over millions of years.  We will also learn, later how rocks are able to tell us about millions of years of history of the earth and the animals that lived millions ago.


Task 1.


First thing we need to do is find out how much we already know about rocks.  With a partner, make a mind-map of all the things you know about rocks.  This might include:

  • Where we get rocks from
  • The different types of rocks
  • Names of different rocks
  • Things that we use rocks for


Task 2.

investigatewriting task

You will now be given a sample of different rocks. Take a look at each rock using a hand magnifying glass.

  • Write down 6 words to describe each rock.



You will be completing a project over the course of this unit on your own rock. Your homework is to find a rock that you’d like to study over the next couple of weeks. It can be any rock, maybe from your garden or from a park. It might be at home already as a paperweight or other object made from rock (check with someone at home before you bring it in).  It can be any type or size, but don’t bring one in too big, you’re going to have to carry it in (suggest size of a fist, maximum).