Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
This activity is modified from “Edible Rocks” published in Exploring Meteorite Mysteries.
Edible Rocks Overview

Children analyze and discuss candy bars with the same terminology used by geologists to study rocks from space.

What’s the Point? Materials For the Facilitator For Each Group of 10 Children

Individually wrapped chocolate candies and/or granola bars that mimic meteorites such as:

Supporting Resources Preparation Activity
  1. 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.

  2. Optional:  Watch a video clip about meteorites.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

    Candy bar
    Nestle's Crunch
  6. 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:

  7. 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
  8. 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:
    1. What does the outside look like? Did anyone see anything else or different?
    2. What do you see on the inside? Does anyone have anything to add to that description?
    3. Describe the appearance of both the outside and inside of each piece of candy (using both familiar and new vocabulary terms).
    4. Discuss the differences and similarities between the different “rocks” (candy).
    5. Compare these “rock” samples to the meteorite images. How are they similar?
    6. 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.
Conclusion

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.