Lesson: Ranking the Rocks

Contributed by: Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Two photos: Four rocks of different types. People walking down stairs in a tall underground cavern.
Students investigate which rocks are best suited for caverns
copyright
Copyright © (rocks) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, NASA, (cavern) Peter Jones, National Park Service http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1082 http://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/images/ne_route_jones.jpg

Summary

Continuing the Asteroid Impact challenge, student teams assign importance factors, called "desirability points," to mathematically determine the overall best rocks for building caverns within. Students learn the real-world connections and relationships between the rock properties found in the previous lesson and the important engineering properties for designing and building caverns (or tunnels, mines, building foundations, etc.).
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers design caverns, tunnels, mines, bridges and foundations, just to name a few of the many structures they create. To do this, they look at data from a variety of sources. They consider rock properties as they apply to specific real-world design and construction situations. They make calculations and consider alternative options. They even make calculations to compare solutions to each other. They take all these steps so they make smart decisions that keep people safe.

Pre-Req Knowledge

Ability to read data from a graph, and a fair recollection of knowledge from the previous lessons in the Asteroid Impact unit.

Learning Objectives

  • Take data from a graph and enter it into a table.
  • Synthesize data from numerous categories and build a concise data table.
  • Releate the relevance of rock properties to real-world design and construction applications.
  • Use a mathematical scoring system to rank solutions.
  • Synthesize the best rocks with all previous data to update their candidate cavern locations.

More Curriculum Like This

Ranking the Rocks

Student teams assign importance factors, called "desirability points," to the rock properties found in the previous lesson/activity in order to mathematically determine the overall best rocks for building caverns within. They learn the real-world connections and relationships between the rock and th...

Middle School Activity
Rock Solid

Students are introduced to three types of material stress related to rocks: compressional, torsional and shear. They learn about rock types (sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic), and about the occurrence of stresses and weathering in nature, including physical, chemical and biological weathering.

Middle School Lesson
A Good Foundation

Students explore the effects of regional geology on bridge foundation, including the variety of soil conditions found beneath foundations. They learn about shallow and deep foundations, as well as the concepts of bearing pressure and settlement.

Middle School Lesson
Exploring Nondestructive Evaluation Methods

Students learn about nondestructive testing, the use of the finite element method (systems of equations) and real-world impacts, and then conduct mini-activities to apply Maxwell’s equations, generate currents, create magnetic fields and solve a system of equations. They see the value of NDE and FEM...

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.

  • Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Established design principles are used to evaluate existing designs, to collect data, and to guide the design process. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Develop and communicate an evidence based scientific explanation around one or more factors that change Earth's surface (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Analyze and interpret data identifying ways Earth's surface is constantly changing through a variety of processes and forces such as plate tectonics, erosion, deposition, solar influences, climate, and human activity (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Gather, analyze, and communicate data that explains Earth's plates, plate motions, and the results of plate motions (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
Suggest an alignment not listed above

Introduction/Motivation

How can we learn from all the rock properties data we have collected and recorded? How can we put it to use to help us find the best location to place our underground caverns?

Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers

As necessary, supplement students' understanding of basic rock/mineral testing, rock identification and rock classification (sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic).

Associated Activities

  • Ranking the Rocks - Student teams assign importance factors, called "desirability points," to the rock properties found in the previous lesson in order to mathematically rank the overall best rocks for building caverns within.

Attachments

Assessment

  • Review students' worksheet answers to gauge their comprehension of the concepts.
  • As a concluding quiz, give students a dfferent graph for interpretation.
  • Really test students' ability to consider all factors by conducting the extension activity.

Lesson Extension Activities

Have each group write the grid location of one of their choices on a piece of paper. Have teams swap pieces of paper. Give teams five minutes to find the locations on the map grid and study its location on both maps. Write down reasons why you think it is a good choice and why it is might not be a good choice. Call upon each group to share and discuss their findings. Display the big map in the front of the classroom to show the grid locations.

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Colorado School of Mines

Supporting Program

Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Acknowledgements

Adventure Engineering was supported by National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 9950660 and GK-12 0086457. 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: June 6, 2017

Comments