February is rock month for my after school Science and Nature Lab students. I have been collecting rocks all year and even have some rocks from past years to pass out to the the children. I think they liked it!Egg crates make great containers for holding lots of rocks. I like the fact that egg crates don't cost anything, can stack neatly in the back of a child's closet, and keep the rocks organized. We placed cotton at the base of each egg hold. This keeps the rocks in place and prevents them from getting scratched. Students chose quartz, pyrite, marble, sulfur, diatom, mica, lava rock, magnetite, Canada rocks, geodes, and some others for their starter collections. I went to Lowes and bought a marble tile, broke it up then, tumbled it in the rock tumbler.Some of our marble pieces were magnetic. The students really liked that. We checked all the rocks in my rock box and found three of them that had magnetic properties. Geodes are surprising and exciting. I showed them how to open their geode. Tristan gleefully offered to give up his sock so I could demonstrate. The sock prevented anyone from getting harmed with flying rock debris. Pyrite or Fools Gold is a great rock for kids. It is also quite prevalent around here. I found most of mine around Lake Hartwell. I hid the pyrite in a tub of sand so they had to "pan for pyrite" to find their fool's gold...
Everyone got to choose one of their rocks to put under the microscope. Here is a piece of pyrite that we magnified at 10X. Several of my Canada rocks have gold in them. The children all hoped that their Canada rock would have gold embedded inside somewhere as well. Quartz is another great rock that is quite prevalent around here. We washed our quartz rocks and cleaned them with toothbrushes. Mica is easily found near Lake Hartwell as well. Of course there is always time for a few diversions during lab such as Zach's sea shell collection
and a visit from Buddy Bird! Next month we will study insects. Wait till you see what students get to take home!!
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