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Geology Rocks!

Grade Level: 
4–7
Student Level: 
Middle School

For thousands of years, artists have used beautifully colored stones for jewelry, sculptures, and paint pigments. All of these rocks and minerals were formed during the group of transitions know as the Rock Cycle. In this program, students will learn about the characteristics of rocks prized by artists—their hardness or softness, the way they reflect light, their ability to draw or make a streak—and how geologists use those properties to identify and understand how they developed in the earth. By looking at works from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection, students will become familiar with the stages of the Rock Cycle, and discover categories of rocks and minerals in our environment.

Objectives: 

Students will learn or understand…

  • The Rock Cycle
  • Artists have been picking up rocks for thousands of years, using beautifully colored stones for jewelry, carving rock sculptures small and large, drawing with chalk or painting with pigments made from ground-up colored stones, and all of these rocks and minerals were formed in some stage of the Rock Cycle. 
  • Many of the properties of rocks prized by artists—their hardness or softness, the way they reflect light, their ability to draw or make a streak—are used by geologists to identify rocks and understand the geological processes that formed them in the earth. 
  • Looking at works of art from geological materials can also reveal a good deal about rocks and minerals—and even processes within earth itself.