Hands-on Activity Rock Jeopardy!

Quick Look

Grade Level: 7 (6-8)

Time Required: 1 hour

Expendable Cost/Group: US $1.00

Group Size: 5

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Earth and Space

Photo shows a stack of seven various types of rounded rocks.
Students put their knowledge of rocks to the test!
Copyright © 2004 Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399 USA. All rights reserved.


Students reinforce their understanding of rocks, the rock cycle, and geotechnical engineering by playing a trivia game. They work in groups to prepare Jeopardy-type trivia questions (answers) and compete against each other to demonstrate their knowledge of rocks and engineering.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers learn about the natural world in order to design the human-built environment. Rocks are important in the natural world, and make up the foundation of the earth we depend upon. Engineers must understand the characteristics and strength of the rocks located below the surface of the earth so that they can design safe structures, such as bridges, buildings, roads and tunnels. To prevent and limit the destruction of communities and human life, engineers also develop technologies to predict natural hazards caused by rock movement.

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Explain that geotechnical engineers use their knowledge of the rock cycle to assist in the development of communities and prediction of natural hazards.
  • Demonstrate their understanding of basic rock facts, including the rock cycle, types of rocks, types of stresses placed on rocks, and engineering applications of the rock cycle.

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • DCI.ESS2.A.6-8.4. All Earth processes are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling within and among the planet's systems. This energy is derived from the sun and Earth's hot interior. The energy that flows and matter that cycles produce chemical and physical changes in Earth's materials and living organisms. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Geologic time, history, and changing life forms are indicated by fossils and successive sedimentation, folding, faulting, and uplifting of layers of sedimentary rock (Grade 7) More Details

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Materials List

Each group needs:

  • 5 index cards, labeled with incremental point values (100, 200, 300, 400, 500)
  • Pens or pencils
  • Textbooks or other resources about rocks to use as reference materials for writing questions and answers.

To share with the entire class:

  • 5-10 index cards, labeled with category topic
  • Tape, to affix index cards to the board or wall
  • (optional) Rewards for each team (such as candy, pencils, stickers or other small prizes)
  • (optional) A reward for the winning team

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_rock_lesson02_activity1] to print or download.

Pre-Req Knowledge

Students should have a familiarity with the rock cycle and rock facts, including the types of rocks, rock stresses, and rock weathering factors.


We have been learning about rocks, the rock cycle and engineering. We have learned that geotechnical engineers are a type of civil engineer that study the rocks and minerals in the earth's crust. These engineers understand the way that rocks can change over time and the effects that those changes make on the surrounding environment. Engineers work to keep our communities safe by creating technologies to help predict natural hazards caused by the continual weathering and erosion of rock formations, such as landslides, mudslides, sinkholes and earthquakes. These engineers are also important in the design of housing and industrial areas. They identify different types of rocks and soils in the development location, and inform the planners on their expectations for whether the ground may change significantly if exposed to new forces, such as the pressure and forces from auto traffic, houses, structures, and a lot more people.

Are you ready to put into action all that you have learned so far about engineering and the rock cycle? Now that you have learned about how rocks are formed and changed, the steps of the rock cycle, and why engineers must understand the characteristics of rocks, you are ready to play Rock Jeopardy and test your knowledge!

Who knows the TV game show called Jeopardy? Who can tell me how it is played? (If students do not know, describe how a panel of contestants competes for prizes by being the first to supply the question for given answers in a variety of category topics.)

Today you will create your own questions and answers for our game of Rock Jeopardy. We'll break into teams, and each team will be responsible for creating five questions about engineering and rock types, the rock cycle, rock stresses, or other rock facts questions. When you are writing your questions/answers, make the hardness level of the question match with the point value. So, a 500-point question should be a lot harder than a 100-point one. Then, we'll play Rock Jeopardy together and see which team has the rock experts!



To provide a student review of the rock cycle and basic rock facts (including types of rocks, rock stresses and rock weathering), see information provided in lesson 1 and lesson 2 of this unit.

Before the Activity

  • Gather materials.
  • Write incremental point values on the front of the index cards (100, 200, 300, 400, 500).
  • Choose topic categories to which students will write questions, for example: Fun Rock Facts, Rock Types, The Rock Cycle, Rock Stresses, Rock Weathering, Where in the Rock Cycle?, Geotechnical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Engineering and Natural Disasters, Types of Engineering and Rocks, and Engineering Rocks! Write each topic on its own index card.
  • (Optional) To make sure engineering questions are included in the game, create and write out questions/answers for one engineering category in advance. See the attached Rock Jeopardy Example Questions/Answers for ideas for the "Engineering Rocks!" category.
  • Decide whether you want to run the game in the traditional television Jeopardy "reverse question" format or the easier question/answer format. In television Jeopardy, contestants are provided with an answer and must supply the question. They give their responses in the form of a question, such as "What is..." In this activity, the game is set up so students do not have to follow the "reverse question" format unless you feel it would work well for your class.

With the Students

  1. Review the rock cycle and basic rock facts (including types of rocks, rock stresses, and rock weathering) with the students.
  2. Explain the procedures and the rules of playing Jeopardy: Student teams pick a category and amount. The game show host (teacher) reads to the team the question on that card. The team has 30 seconds to consult amongst their team members and then give their answer. (Alternatively, conduct the game in the traditional television Jeopardy "reverse question" format if desired. Explain rules accordingly.)
  3. Divide the class into teams of five students each, and give each team a set of five index cards.
  4. Assign each team a category topic to which they write questions. Make sure all students have access to plenty of reference material to assist in writing questions.
  5. Remind students that questions should increase in difficulty to reflect their point value.
  6. Give students enough time (about 30 minutes) to brainstorm and write questions. Remind teams to write both the question and answer on the back of each index card.
  7. Onto the classroom board or a wall, tape the question/answer index cards below a card with their category topic, in ascending points value order.

A table shows six category topics across the top row. Below each topic are five boxes labeled 100 to 500, in ascending order.
How to position the index cards for the game.
Copyright © 2006 Abigail Watrous, ITL Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder.

  1. Explain the game rules: Once asked a question, teams may take up to 30 seconds to consult amongst themselves before answering. If a team does not answer the question correctly, the question goes to the next team, and then the next, until a team gives the right answer. Teams may choose any index card remaining on the board, in any order (except for those from the category for which they wrote the questions/answers). When all the index cards have been answered, the team with the most points (added from the front of the cards) wins.
  2. Have teams sit together at tables, then play Rock Jeopardy!
  3. Clarify questions/answers as the game proceeds.
  4. Recognize the winning team with a reward.
  5. Conclude by conducting the post-activity assessment described in the Assessment section.


Cementation: The act or process of cementing. Part of how sedimentary rocks are formed is by sediment being glued together by natural glues such as calcite and silica. Compaction and cementation work together to create sedimentary rocks from sediment.

Compaction: The act of pressing something together. Another part of the way sedimentary rocks are formed is by sediment being compacted together.

Erosion: The process by which the surface of the earth is worn away by the action of water, glaciers, winds, waves, etc.

Jeopardy: Risk of loss or injury; peril or danger. Also, name of a television game show.

Magma: Molten rock inside of the earth.

Sediment: Material deposited by wind, water or glaciers.

Weathering: In geology, the various mechanical and chemical processes that cause exposed rock to decompose.


Pre-Activity Assessment

Practice Questions: To ensure that students understand the types of questions they will be writing, give them a few minutes and ask each student to create a practice question on a topic unrelated to rocks (perhaps Rock 'n Roll). (Example question: What is the name of the famous 1960s British rock group from Liverpool, England? Answer: The Beatles.) Have a few students share their questions and answers with the class and give the students feedback on their questions as needed, pointing out the range in difficulty in the example questions.

Activity Embedded Assessment

Observation: Evaluate students' questions/answers as they prepare them for the Rock Jeopardy game to gauge their comprehension of the subject matter.

Post-Activity Assessment

Engineering Exit Question: Have students each tell you one thing they learned about engineering and rocks as they leave the classroom.

Troubleshooting Tips

Make sure to clearly explain the rules and procedures of the game before starting. Also explain any reward structure.

It may help to assign a student(s) to serve as a timekeeper and/or scorekeeper.

Activity Extensions

If students want to play again, assign homework to write new questions/answers for new categories, and/or ask students to make the questions/answers more difficult.

Activity Scaling

  • For lower grades, create all of the questions/answers in advance.
  • For higher grades, have students select their own categories and develop questions/answers for that category. Make sure the categories are appropriate for Rock Jeopardy. Then run the game in the traditional reverse question format of the television show.


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Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Accessed August 6, 2008. (Source of some vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation) http://www.dictionary.com


© 2008 by Regents of the University of Colorado


Abigail Watrous; Kate Beggs; Kristin Field; Malinda Schaefer Zarske; Denise W. Carlson

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


The contents of these digital library curricula were developed by the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: October 7, 2022

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