Geology science projects for middle school students? I know, a volcano, let's build a volcano! As a geology teacher, let me plead with all of you, No more exploding volcanoes! There are lots of great activities that can be done.
BACKGROUND: Often referred to as dirt, which is a four letter word dreaded by geologists, soil is truly an amazing thing. Created by the marriage of geology and biology, soil consists of sediments (typically sand, silt and clay) and the partially decomposed remains of plants and insects (humus). If you dig a hole into the ground, you will see layers or horizons, most easily recognized by their different colors. A great project is to have students make soil monoliths in different areas to compare soil profiles.
PROCEDURE: Get a piece of wood, two feet long, 4 inches wide and one inch thick. Have students dig a hole approximately one to two feet deep. Smooth off the soil profile, smear Elmer's glue all over one side of the board, and push it against the side of the soil profile. You might want to prop it up with a shovel or other piece of wood so it stays tight against the soil. Let the glue dry for four-six hours and then remove. About one inch of soil will stick to the wood and presto! A beautiful permanent soil profile that can be brought back to the classroom. If you are close to the ocean, you can do the same procedure in beach sand. The resulting layers are beautiful.
BACKGROUND: Weathering is the breakdown of rock on the Earth's surface when it is exposed to air and water. Without weathering there would be no sediments (boulders, cobbles, pebbles, sand, silt and clay) and hence no soil. There are two main types of weathering: physical and chemical. Physical weathering results in smaller pieces and typically results from frost action, the expansion of freezing water. Chemical weathering results in a change in composition and typically results from oxidation (rusting) or solution (dissolving).
PROCEDURE: Armed with a digital camera, have students go on a weathering scavenger hunt. They need to take pictures of places where rocks are weathering. Some great places too look are roads (potholes!), sidewalks, old stone buildings, and yes, cemeteries!