This activity is modified from “Edible Rocks” published in Exploring Meteorite Mysteries.
Children analyze and discuss candy bars with the same terminology used by geologists to study rocks from space.
What’s the Point?
- Space rocks called meteorites sometimes fall on Earth and provide us with clues about the solar system’s formation.
- Geologists use certain terms to describe characteristics of rocks that they find in the field.
- Large space rocks have hit the Earth in the past, making craters and causing extinctions.
- The use of candy can attract new audiences such as tweens and expand family involvement to include fathers and teens.
Materials For the Facilitator
- Plastic table cloths
- Paper towels
- Hand wipes
- Meteorite/candy comparison images
- Vocabulary list
- Brief Facilitation Outline
For Each Group of 10 Children
Individually wrapped chocolate candies and/or granola bars that mimic meteorites such as:
- 5 Chocolate
- 5 Nestle Crunch™
- 5 Three Musketeers™
- 5 Chocolate-dipped granola bars, any variety
- 10 Small plastic bags for samples
- 10 Plastic knives
- 10 Paper plates
- Colored pencils for each team
- Pens or pencils
- 10 copies of Edible Rocks Field Notes
Correlation to Standards
Next Generation Science Standards:
HS-ESS1-6. Apply scientific reasoning and evidence from ancient Earth materials, meteorites, and other planetary surfaces to construct an account of Earth’s formation and early history.
Disciplinary Core Idea: The solar system contains many varied objects held together by gravity.
- Patterns: students identify similarities and differences in order to sort and classify natural objects and designed products.
Science and Engineering Practices:
- Practice 2 Developing and Using Models: Compare models to identify common features and differences.
- Practice 4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data:
- Record information (observations, thoughts, and ideas).
- Use and share pictures, drawings, and/or writings of observations.
- Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns and/or relationships in the natural and designed world(s) in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems.
Common Core English Language Arts
Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
- History Channel – The Secrets of Meteorites
- PBS NOVA – Hunting for Meteorites
- Science Channel’s Meteorite Men
- NASA’s Solar System Exploration – Meteors and Meteorites http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Meteors
- Killer Asteroids
- NASA’s Solar System Exploration – Meteors and Meteorites Lithograph handout
- NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio – Asteroids
- Put the plastic table cloths on the tables.
- Introduce the activity with the following information: Meteorites are pieces of asteroids (space rocks made of the material remaining from the formation of our solar system) that make it to the surface of a planet. They can provide clues about how the planets in our solar system were formed. Asteroids can have a huge impact on life on Earth, such as when one struck the Earth 65 million years ago, resulting in the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- Optional: Watch a video clip about meteorites.
- Offer each child his or her choice of two “meteorite” (candy) samples. Invite the children to cut their samples in half and observe and describe the characteristics of the samples in the same way that a geologist describes rocks from space. If desired, provide the Edible Rocks Field Notes and encourage the children to draw and describe their samples.
- Encourage the children to describe their observations using familiar vocabulary — but without using food terms! Prompt the children to talk to each other and/or with their families about what they observe. Provide the Meteorite Candy Comparison Images and discuss how the different candy “meteorites” are similar to — and different from — real space rocks.
For example: Nestle Crunch™ would be described as follows: The outer layer is a thin coat of light brown material (i.e., chocolate) and there are light-colored round chunks inside (i.e., puffed rice).
- After they have described the samples with familiar vocabulary, encourage older children to use terms from the meteorite vocabulary list in their descriptions.
Different types of meteorites can each be represented by a type of candy, as listed below:
- Chondrules – Nestle Crunch™
- Fusion crust – 3 Musketeers™
- Matrix – Nestle Crunch™ (the chocolate)
- Vesicles – Nestle Crunch™ / chocolate bar
- Porous – chocolate-dipped granola bar / 3 Musketeers™
- Unfractured – chocolate bar
- Hold a discussion with the entire group; comparing their descriptions of each sample type. Allow the children’s thinking to be shaped by the experience — refrain from giving your own conclusions. Encourage them to talk to each other (in pairs or small groups) as they note their observations. Possible discussion prompts:
- What does the outside look like? Did anyone see anything else or different?
- What do you see on the inside? Does anyone have anything to add to that description?
- Describe the appearance of both the outside and inside of each piece of candy (using both familiar and new vocabulary terms).
- Discuss the differences and similarities between the different “rocks” (candy).
- Compare these “rock” samples to the meteorite images. How are they similar?
- How are they different?
Facilitator’s Notes: This activity highlights the process of science. Observation, description, and characterization / classification of objects are important components of how science is actually done.
Meteorites provide windows into the very beginnings of our solar system delivered to us – we don't even have to go into space to get them! They can have an impact on life, including causing extinctions, so scientists want to learn as much as they can about these rocks. They study them and describe them using terms like the ones just used in the activity.