Trevor's Webelos den (aka, the 4th grade Cub Scout group) is flying through their requirements before they graduate from Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts next March. I've been in charge of teaching the "Earth Rocks!" (geology) unit this month. You might recall that I did a Geology Belt Loop Night for the same group of boys last year (before belt loops went away). The challenge with "Earth Rocks!" was to come up with completely different activities for the boys to cover much of the same material, but at a deeper level.
We started with a field trip to a nearby rock store. Calling it a 'rock store' is a bit misleading though. It is absolutely huge, a former fruit packing factory. There are different rooms, many themed areas, and literally thousands of different kinds of rocks on display. My favorite is the amethyst room. It is stunning. If you're at all local, go.
At our next meeting, we decorated an egg carton to house a den rock collection. (I painted it with white gesso ahead of time and let it dry so that the boys could decorate it with crayons and color pencils during the meeting.
We consulted maps to identify geologic features...
.... and took a hike into the hills near our house to make observations.
We stopped on a hilltop with an amazing view and talked about different forces that could shape the landscape as we see it. Wind, fire, rain and earthquakes all occur here; each (along with human and/or animal influence) can impact the land.
When we finished our hike, we collected different rocks along a trail and from neighbors' yards (with permission, of course). The boys found 12 different rocks and created a label for each with the sample number, description (color, size, etc), and the date and location of collection.
For our third meeting, I turned our backyard into a geology laboratory. Working in teams of two, the boys selected a rock from the collection and ran it through a series of tests, gathering and recording the data.
They used magnifying glasses to check the structure of the crystals, checked the luster, streak and cleavage on the patio, dripped vinegar to check for the presence of calcite, used Mohs tests for hardness, and finally used a rock ID book to make a tentative identification. Each pair tested six of the rocks from our den's rock collection.
For our final "Earth Rocks!" meeting, we started with a demonstration by Trevor about making a compass from a needle, magnet and leaf. Each time I've led a Cub Scout adventure, I've tried to include Trevor in the leadership. He's an excellent teacher and a big help.
We opened the geodes that Grandma had put in Trevor's Easter eggs (GREAT idea for a non-candy Easter egg idea, by the way). He'd wanted to save them all this time to open them during our Geology unit.
We played a geology version of Four Corners Trivia and the winner got to keep our den's rock collection. The lucky winner was SO happy! Next, we did an edible geology activity that was a lot of fun.
Trevor led the final activity: a geology wordsearch that led to a hidden treasure: polished rocks for the Scouts to keep. They were in the treasure chest I made about 5 years ago. That thing has gotten a LOT of use over the years!