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Lesson Plan #: AELP-GLG0208
Submitted by: Shannon Watson
Email: slwatson@pasadenaisd.org
School/University/Affiliation: Jackson Intermediate School, Pasadena, Texas
Date: November 13, 2003

Grade Level: 5, 6, 7, 8


  • Science/Geology
  • Science/Earth Science

Duration: 50 minutes

Description: Students simulate the processes of the rock cycle by becoming the forces that create and destroy rocks, making microwave fudge in this fun lesson.

Goals: TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills) for Science :
Objective 6.6C – identify forces that shape features of the Earth including uplifting, movement of water, and volcanic activity.

Objectives: Students will simulate the processes of the rock cycle by creating fudge igneous rocks.

access to microwave and refrigerator
for each lab station: one bowl, one spoon, wax paper, measuring cups and spoons, and the following sediments:

  • 1/3 cup silt (Erosion) — evaporated milk
  • 1 cup quartz crystals (Uplifting) — sugar
  • 1 tablespoon organic sediments (Time) — margarine
  • 1 cup limestone pieces (Ocean) — mini-marshmallows
  • ¼ cup sandstone pieces (Weathering) — pecans or walnuts
  • ¾ cup basalt pieces (Heat) — semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon crude oil (Pressure) — vanilla extract

Rock Cycle Fudge Teacher’s Guide
Rock Cycle Fudge Teacher’s Guide in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Click the icon to obtain the free Reader. Procedure:

[Each student will be assigned a role: Erosion, Uplifting, Time, Plate Tectonics, Heat, Pressure, Ocean, Weathering, Crust. Depending on class size, some students may need to take two roles.]

Each set of two lab stations should be equipped with a microwave, a large, microwave-safe bowl, a large spoon, a set of measuring cups, and measuring spoons. A station should be set up with the ingredients accessible to students and labeled as the various sediments. Each group should have a can with the roles on individual slips to be drawn. Read the scenario with the students and let them draw roles.

We begin our journey through the rock cycle with sediments that have been weathered into small pieces. These sediments will come together to form sedimentary, then metamorphic rock. They will melt into magma, and finally end up as igneous rock. YOU are to play the part of the forces involved in creating and destroying rocks in the endless rock cycle. Draw your ‘role’ from the can.

  • Erosion, Uplifting, and Time will measure and add the silt, quartz crystals, and organic sediments to the bowl.
  • Plate Tectonics will mix them thoroughly with the spoon.
  • Heat will place the bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, then Pressure will stir it. Do this 3 times! (Pick up materials for the next step while this is going on.)
  • While step 3 is being done, Weathering will break the sandstone pieces into smaller pieces. Nuts will be broken down, simulating weathering.
  • Ocean, Weathering, Heat, and Pressure will measure and add the limestone, sandstone, basalt, and crude oil to the bowl.
  • Time and Ocean will take turns stirring the sediments as they undergo metamorphosis, finally melting the limestone and basalt back into magma. Discuss the natural processes that are being simulated.
  • Erosion will hold the bowl as Plate Tectonics uses the spoon to scrape the magma back out onto the Earth’s surface (wax paper).
  • Crust will add another sheet of the Earth’s surface (wax paper) over the top of the cooling igneous rocks after labeling it with student names and class period.
  • Crust and Plate Tectonics will carry the sheet of igneous rocks to a cooling area (refrigerator).
  • Assessment: Teacher observation is the main form of assessment. Review with the students that this was a simulation of the rock cycle and that the actual cycle takes millions of years, incredible temperatures and very high pressure. Have each group clean their areas for the next class, and arrange a time when the students can return to eat their igneous rocks. Useful Internet Resource:
    * Chapter 112. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Subchapter B. Middle School