Science Sampler: Chemical weathering—Where did the rocks go? by: Robin Harris, Carolyn Wallace, and Joseph Zawicki

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This lesson is part of a larger Earth science unit that combines the concepts of the rock cycle and the water cycle and how they interact to change landforms. The authors refer to it as the “make it and then break it” unit. They spend half the unit making metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rock models, and the second half of the unit weathering and eroding their models and other rocks. Students use the lessons learned to answer an open-ended question describing the process of weathering. They also make decisions regarding the chemical and mechanical weathering on monuments and buildings.

  • Middle
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Reviews (6)
  • on Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:44 PM

I loved this article. The lesson is divided into three activities: 1) Chemical Weathering with lemon juice/vinegar/and water, 2) Acids and Bases with pennies, salt, and vinegar, and 3) Role of Oxygen and Acids with steel wool, water, and salt. Done in stations, this is a great way for middle school students to record extended observations, using data tables, graphs, and charts to record and then analyze what is occuring. Inquiry Plus is the backbone of this article. Well written, easy to implement, great questions for group discussion. If you need a lab over an extended time frame-try this one! You will not be disappointed.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:42 PM

It was a great idea, the opportunity of doing real science. I love doing hands-on activities!!!

Nikki T
Nikki T

  • on Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:34 PM

This could be a great lab to do on a nice day outside. It also provides you with an extension.

Nikki T
Nikki T

  • on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:21 PM

Chemical weathering can be a difficult concept for young middle school students. I developed an approach similar to the article with my 6th grade students. The investigations included definitely provide a good starting point to give examples and get students thinking.

Kendall Grazul
Kendall Grazul

  • on Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:43 PM

What makes this activity a little different is that students use technology to view real life examples of chemical weathering. A Google image search is done or site is used to allow students to find locations where actual conditions are contributors to chemical weathering. The classroom chemical weather activity itself is not to unique.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:00 PM

This article addresses the issue of chemical weathering. Perhaps if I had the entire unit referenced in the article, I would appreciate the lessons presented more. However, I think the article misses an important opportunity to address the issues of acid rain and pollution in relation to the Earths systems. Also, I would have appreciated a more thorough description of the chemical reactions that are occurring – not for the students, but as background information for me. The three labs that are presented appear to be good, but again, there is not enough background information on the chemical reactions taking place for me to help my students see the correlations to the real world. The best lab is the lab, which uses real rock samples for the students to test. I am not sure if the students can make the connection between rocks and pennies. Overall the lesson plan ideas appear solid – a little more information would have made this a great article/lesson plan idea.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

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