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Example of a Science Inquiry Station

Title: How do rocks change?

Grade Level: 4th grade
(The activity falls under the category of structured inquiry because students re
investigating a question presented by the teacher through a prescribed method.)
The purpose of these stations is for students to explore how rocks can change over
Materials List:
Cookies (preferably of the hard variety)
Water Droppers
Conceptual Background:
OAS-S Standard: 4-ESS1-1
Rocks are created and destroyed in cycles. The rock cycle is a model that
describes the breakdown, reformation, and formation of a rock. This results
in sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks. All rocks are made up of
minerals. Earths surface features have changed and continue to change over
time. Wind, ice, water, and vegetation can affect how fast weathering and
erosion occur. When rock and land formations erode, we can see rock
formations. Rock formations explain how landscape has changed over time.
Rock formations can be examined to identify patterns in rock layers and
fossils found in these layers. (Idaho Museum of Natural History)
Station Description:
Students will each begin with a cookie, a toothpick, a water dropper, and a straw.
The teacher will offer support as needed, but this station is primarily student
lead. Students will follow directions on a direction card at the station.
o Students will experiment with the toothpick by poking and prodding at the
This action represents the destruction of rocks.
o The students will then use the water dropper to squirt water on the
This action represents rain.
o Once their cookie is in pieces, the students will blow through the straw at
their cookie crumbs.
This action represents wind erosion.
o Students will then sweep their cookies into a pile and squish the cookie
fragments together (they can add a few drops of water to get the pieces to
stick together if needed).

Questions to ask students throughout the station:

o How do you think you might use these materials to change the rocks
o What might each action represent in the real world?
o What other materials could you use in this activity to simulate real world
scenarios that happen to rocks?
You could extend this inquiry station by allowing students to research different
real world scenarios that happen to rocks and (or let them use the methods that
they described in the third question listed above) and recreate the inquiry station
using those scenarios.
o An example they might find is vegetation and they may use string to
represent the roots that break up rocks as they grow.

Bittman, Erin. (2013, Jan. 9). E is for explore: Cookie rocks and mining. Retrieved from:
Idaho Museum of Natural History. (n.d). The rock cycle. Retrieved from: