Pre-K Geologists

One of the questions that we’ve been working on answering is “where do rocks come from?”. At the museum, we learned that some rocks come from volcanoes but the students weren’t completely sure what that meant, so we decided to do some more research. After looking at some books about volcanoes, we learned that when lava comes out of a volcano and hardens, it becomes an Igneous rock. We also learned that depending on how fast or slow the lava cools, it can become different types of Igneous rock. Sometimes when the lava is leaving the volcano, small to large gas bubbles get caught in the molten rock. When the lava hardens, the hollow interior can often get filled with mineral rich fluids which allows crystals to grow. This is what we call a geode.

This week, during center time, the students have been putting on their geologist hats (or more accurately geologist goggles) to see what a geode really looks like before, during, and after they are opened. We spent some time learning about how to be safe with our materials, as the children would be using a real hammer. The children started by using very gentle taps on their rock just as the instructions had detailed. After several attempts, we decided to use a little bit more force. After some trial and error, we found just the right amount of pressure that was needed to split the geodes open revealing different types and patterns of crystals. Some were white and swirly, while others were clear and hexagonal. We even saw some that were black and gray. The students then worked together to try and decide what type of crystals were inside their geodes by comparing them to the pictures in our guide. The students decided that some were very common crystals and others were very rare. We very excited to see what the last few geodes hold inside.


The Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

Today, our class took our first field trip to the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems to learn more about what types of materials are used to make jewelry. As we walked through the exhibit, the students noticed the many similarities and differences between the various rocks and gems. Some were smooth and round while others were rough and jagged. There were many different colors and some specimens had several types of crystals existing on one rock. We learned that some rocks come from cooled lava and others come from sand. We even got to see some rocks glow under a UV light and were surprised to see that they glowed different colors. We also had a chance to see what the gems look like when they are polished and cut so that they can be used for jewelry. Many students were surprised how many different types and colors there were.

While the trip helped the children to see the variety of materials that are used to make jewelry, it also opened the door for new questions for us to answer. Where can you find gems other than in caves? What are the gems made from? How do they cut the gems? How do they get the gems to stay inside the jewelry? These are all wonderful questions that we hope to answer as we move forward in our study of jewelry.