Fossils & Rocks
There’s a history story right beneath your feet! And it goes all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs and beyond. Rocks can be fun to collect and study—and if you find a fossil, you’ll be holding evidence of something that’s really, really, really old. Even older than your parents!
Start a rock or fossil collection.
Create a Rock! (All experiments were taken from “Geology Rocks” by Cindy Blobaum; Williamson Publishing).
What you'll need – Baking sheet, Saucepan, Butter, Sugar
Grease the baking sheet with the butter. Place the greased baking sheet into the freezer. Next, with the help of an adult, pour ½ cup of sugar into the saucepan. Melt the sugar in the saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar is completely melted, take the baking sheet out of the freezer and place the melted sugar on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back into the freezer. Wait a few minutes and then take out the baking sheet to see your sugar glass. By heating the sugar to the point of melting and then letting it cool you made a sample of an igneous rock! Remember, igneous rocks are formed when parts of the earth are heated, melt and then cool.
What you’ll need – Clear Glass Jar with Lid, Pebbles, Leaves, Sand, Dirt, etc. Epsom Salt (available at drugstores), Water
Collect pebbles, leaves, sand, dirt and other things from your backyard or playground and place them into your jar with a ¼ cup of Epsom Salts. Add water until there is only about 2 inches of space left at the top. Put the jar lid on tight and shake! You’ll notice your ingredients or sediment are now floating. Place your jar down on a flat surface and check on it every hour or so. Which sediments will drop first? Can you see layers forming? After the sediment has completely settled to the bottom of the jar carefully pour out the water. Let the layers dry and you now have your very own sedimentary rock! Sedimentary rock is formed when clay, slit, sand and other materials are exposed to great pressures.
What you’ll need – Snow or Crushed Ice, Bowl
Take the bowl and fill with snow or crushed ice. Using your bare hands, press the snow or ice into a ball. Keep pressing for a full minute until the ball is small. Take another look at the ball. Is it harder or softer? You used, heat (from your body), pressure and time (one minute) to create replicate how metamorphic rock is made. You created your very own sample of a metamorphic rock!
What to Read
Learn a little more about geology and fossils while curling up with a good book.
- Rocks and Minerals of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Geology magazine
- Earthsteps A Rock’s Journey Through Time by Diane Nelson Spickert
- How the Earth Works: 60 Fun Activities for Exploring Volcanoes, Fossils, Earthquakes & more by O’brien-Palmer
- Stone Wall Secrets by Kristine Thorson
- How Much is a Million by David M. Schwartz
- Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker
- Common Fossils of Pennsylvania
- Golden Guide to Rocks & Fossils
- Golden Guide to Geology
- Peterson First Guide to Rocks and Minerals
Other Cool Pages
Exploring Careers Outdoors (ECO) Camp – If you’re a high school and are interested in a career in the natural sciences or conservation ECO Camp is for you. You’ll meet and get to interact with professionals; such as foresters, wildlife biologists, geologists and many others; all while recreating in beautiful state parks. You’ll also be able to choose a mentor. The mentor can help connect you to future camp, volunteer or job opportunities, they could write a letter of recommendation for college or even help you navigate the state hiring process. Apply today!
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