The Rock Cycle

Time: 2 Hours (Can Be Shortened)

Grades: 6-8

Next Generation Science Standard: MS-ESS2-1 

This program will deep dive into the process of the Rock Cycle! Learn all about the three types of rocks, where you can find them, how they're made, and how they change into each other! Students who visit the museum for this program will also get hands-on with different rocks, explore our new geology lab, and create the rock cycle out of starbursts! 

⮜⮜ Back to School Programs



As with all of our programs, this field trip can be taught as a Virtual Field Trip or as an On-Grounds Field Trip. This program was built around middle school science standards. In our Rock Cycle program, your students will get a hands-on experience as they learn about this important geological concept. 


Activity - Exploring Rocks: 15 Minutes

Your students will begin the field trip with an activity that gets them touching and exploring different rocks. Each table of students will be given a collection of different rocks (the same rocks for each table). They'll analyze the rocks, then sort them into different categories. They'll be able to sort them by any characteristics they choose; this will act as an introduction to how geologists sort and categorize rocks.


Educational Lesson - The Rock Cycle: 45 Minutes

Next, discuss the categories that geologists actually use when they categorize rocks. We'll learn about sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, and igneous rocks... including how each type or rock is made and some unique sub-categories for each rock type. For example, we will learn the difference between intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks.

After learning about each rock type, we'll dive into the rock cycle. Your students will learn how one type of rock can change into another one - including what geological forces are required for the change.


Activity - Starburst Rock Cycle: 20 Minutes

Finally, your students will use starbursts to model the rock cycle. They'll cut, squish, and melt these candies to turn their "rocks" into each category. This will show them how the real rock cycle works! 


Museum Time: 40 Minutes

Afterwards, their time in the classroom, your students can explore the museum - including our new Geology Lab section within the Prehistoric Wyoming gallery. 


Science Next Generation Science Standards: 

This field trip is designed to meet the Next Generation Science Standard MS-ESS2-1. This includes:  

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: ESS2.A
  • Crosscutting Concepts: 4, 4, 5, and 7
  • Science and Engineering Practices: 2 and 4 

It has been approved to meet these standards and objectives by the Wyoming State Department of Education Standards Team.

This field trip may also meet other standards for other grades, within ESS2 or other Earth Science Standards. Feel free to reach out to the Curator of Education if you would like certain elements discussed in your program. 


Funding for this Field Trip:

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IGSM-249033-OMS-21). The views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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