Draft as of June, 2009
FOSS Earth Materials Unit Overview

Unit Files

Earth Materials Unit Overview


How are properties used to identify, sort, and classify rocks and minerals?
How are simple tools used to help determine the properties of rocks and minerals?
How do we, as scientists, study about earth materials?

Why is it important to learn about Earth Materials?


Students will begin to understand and appreciate that . . .

• Rocks and minerals have observable properties. These properties can be used to compare, sort, and classify the rocks and minerals.
• Scientists use evidence to support a claim.
• Scientists often work in teams to learn more about rocks..
• Sometimes more than one test is needed to provide conclusive evidence.

• Many of the phenomena that we observe on Earth involve interactions among components of air, water, and land.
• Earth materials are solid rocks, which have different physical and chemical properties, which make them useful in different ways, for example, as building materials.
• Some objects occur in nature; others have been designed and made by people to solve human problems and enhance the quality of life.
• Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environments.
• Scientifically investigating rocks and minerals will lead to more information about our world.


Students will be able to . . .

• Observe rock and mineral samples and collect evidence to identify
• Use tools to collect data on rocks and minerals.
• Investigate the hardness of minerals and place minerals in order according to their hardness.
• Investigate the color, luster, texture, and crystal shape of minerals. Use the data to compare minerals.
• Identify rocks and minerals according to their physical properties.
• Compare different rocks and minerals
• Investigate rocks to determine if they contain calcite.
• Investigate rocks to determine their mineral composition.
• Justify the identification of rocks and minerals using evidence.
• Compare data.
• Communicate the results of investigations.


Students will know . . .

• Properties of rocks include shape, size, color and texture. Geologists use rock properties to help identify rocks.
• Earth materials provide many of the resources that humans use.
Tools help scientists make better observations. Simple tools are used to determine the physical properties of rocks and minerals.
• Hardness is a mineral property, and minerals can be seriated by hardness.
• Rocks are made of minerals and other things.
• Minerals are a basic building block of rocks. Minerals cannot be broken down any further.
• Water can break rocks apart and dissolve some minerals. Evaporation is a process used to separate the minerals from the water.
• Mineral crystals have identifiable shapes.
• Minerals have properties that are used in identification. These include crystal shape and size, hardness, luster, color, and reaction to acid.
• A particular property of the mineral calcite is that it fizzes when in acid. This property is used to identify rocks that contain calcite.
• Fizzing evidence shows that marble and limestone contain calcite.
• Many people choose science as a career and devote their entire lives to studying it. Many people derive great pleasure from doing science.
Developing Vocabulary: Balance, Circumference, Crystal, Depth, Diameter, Dissolve, Evaporate, Geologist, Geology, Mass, Meter Tape, Mineral, Property, Earth Materials, Rock, Weigh, Calcite, Fluorite, Gypsum, Hardness, Quartz, Acid, Basalt, Evidence, Limestone, Marble, Plaster or Paris, Sandstone, Vinegar, Feldspar, Granite, Hornblende, Mica
ASSESSMENTAlong with on-going student observations and anecdotal notes, the following assessments can be used to form instruction and provide evidence of student understanding:
FOSS Student Sheets, FOSS Response Sheets, Benchmark Assessments, End of Module FOSS Assessment, Student Inquiry Notebook