Have you ever made a rock collection? Part of the fun is gathering as many different rocks as you can find. But even though rocks come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes, they all fit into one of three categories based on how they were formed. Learn about the rock cycle, the three main types of rocks, and what happens when rocks get so hot that they melt!
1. Unwrap four different-colored Starburst candies. Have an adult use the scissors to help you cut each piece of candy into 9-12 pieces.
2. Pile up the the pieces and mix them around.
3. Next, rub your palms together back and forth quickly for several seconds. Then pick up the pile of candy and push the pieces together to form a ball. Your ball should look lumpy with the candy pieces visible.
4. Next, have an adult help you use your heat source to soften the lumpy ball of candy. Once it’s slightly heated but not too hot to handle, place it in the middle of your square of wax paper and fold the paper in half over it.
5. Once candy lump is inside the wax paper, it’s time to apply pressure. Some ideas include rolling it with a rolling pin, placing a pile of heavy books on top of it, stepping on it, or whatever else you can think of! After you’ve mashed it well, remove the candy blob from the wax paper and fold it up. Then put it back in the wax paper and repeat the process of applying pressure, this time trying a new technique, if you want. When you remove the Starburst from the wax paper now, it should be soft and pliable, so you can easily roll it into a ball.
6. If using foil, fold each side up to fashion a dish and place the candy blob inside.
7. Have an adult help you use your heat source to apply enough heat to completely melt the lump of candy. You’ll know you’ve heated it sufficiently when the candy is liquified. (Do not put aluminum in a microwave!).
8. Have an adult use tongs to remove the foil container from the heat source and place it somewhere out of reach to allow it to cool.
9. Once it’s cool enough to handle, carefully peel the candy from the foil. How is it different from the candy you started with?
The three main types of rocks are sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous and they’re distinguished based on how they’re formed. The entire process by which rocks are formed is called the rock cycle, and like a circle, it has no beginning or end.
Sedimentary rocks are formed when layers of dirt, sand, and small bits of rock (called sediment) are pressed together over a long period of time. In this rock cycle project, we simulated this process—called compaction and cementation—by pressing the pieces of Starburst into a lump.
Metamorphic rocks form when an old rock—either igneous or sedimentary—is exposed to tremendous heat and pressure over time, resulting in a whole new rock! This process of the rock cycle is known as metamorphism. We demonstrated this with steps 4 and 5 of our project.
Igneous rocks are formed when melted rock, called magma or lava, cools and hardens. The final three steps of the project showed how this happens.
Since the rock cycle is continuous, do you think you could use your igneous “rock” from the final steps and start the whole project over? Give it a try!
For more fun studying and experimenting with geology, check out these science projects and lessons: