Geology in Your Kitchen
So you are at home like everybody else in the country. And whether or not you needed to self-quarantine, your kids are now at home with you, too. Closing schools was never anybody’s expectation when we started the school year. But it is where we find ourselves, now. So what are we to do? You can do geology in your kitchen!
Happily, there is so much that you can do with science when you are at home. And the best place to start in right in your kitchen. My daughter told me today that she and her son are going to start doing experiments with chocolate chip cookies, varying types of fat, temperatures, room temperatures, and so on. What a great idea!
But did you know that there are lots of fun things you can do in the kitchen that involve geology? The kitchen makes a great place to use everyday items to demonstrate some concepts in a very visual way that they are not likely to soon forget!
Learning that involves all the kids
We use lots of these types of projects with younger students, but the older kids like them as well, because, well it is fun to do things like this, and make a bit of a mess as you “do” school!
How about learning about volcanic rocks? In volcanic rock the rocks and minerals are fully melted into lava – this gives them a rather uniform texture and composition. In this activity, you will use chocolate to make rock models that they will certainly want to examine more closely.
Lava Rock Chocolate
To make this, you will need:
- Different types of baking chips – white chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch and/or chocolate
- A microwave-safe bowl
- Wax paper or some kind of shortening, grease
- Some type of small mold, like a muffin tin
- Grease your mold (or line your rock mold with wax paper)
- Explain to your children that the different types of chips are different types of minerals. Minerals are what make up rocks. The microwave is going to act like the volcano that melts them into “lava.” Explain that you are going to make a dessert that is like a lava rock.
- Pour the different chips into the bowl. The amount does not matter.
- Put in the microwave and heat until melted (about 2 minutes, though you should check it out every 30 second or so to stir it.)
- When fully melted, stir it all together so that it all looks uniform, and pour it into the mold.
- Put into the refrigerator to cool.
At some point in this process, you will want to discuss how the heat of the volcano melts minerals. Because of this, the usual appearance of volcanic rocks is quite uniform, without the appearance of individual minerals. They all kinda smoosh together.
Be sure to have them describe either in pictures or writing what you have done together, and what they discover in the process. And then go eat you treat!
Continue the Hands-on
And there you have it, an easy way to understand some of what happens with volcanic rocks. But this is just the start! This activity was taken from our book, Rocks and Minerals for Little Eyes. In this book, there are 18 more activities like this, along with lessons to help explain the concepts. They will help you to understand more about sedimentary rocks (sedimentary sandwich), crystals (made from sugar and salt), types of rocks (from crayons), metamorphic rocks (rock candy), and minerals (iron in your cereal).
So get going, put on the apron, and have some fun. Some day we will all look back on this, and be glad that we had fun with our kids!
Watch this short video from Rockman Pat to learn more about volcanic rocks.