Ring of Fire Geology Books & Kits Level 1 (Gr. 3-6)
After seeing a parade of terrific new products designed to make sciences like chemistry fun and approachable, I wondered who would tackle earth science in the same way. Thankfully, author Myrna Martin has, and I'm excited that we are able to offer her excellent books and kits! To offer you the most versatility and cost-effectiveness, we carry the kits that contain the textbook on CD-ROM, along with a selection of rock specimens that are featured in the textbook, and several other pieces of equipment. Kits for Level I focus on types of rocks.
Each kit features 12 lessons, which include text for the student to read (or for you and the students to read together), a quiz on the reading, and a hands-on activity. My sample is the Igneous Rocks kit, and lessons include: physical appearances of igneous rocks, how and where they form, their crystal size, physical properties, colors, density and specific gravity, identification, Bowen's chart (for classification), rock forming minerals, and more. The text portion of the lesson keeps in mind very well the age of the student and is fairly short and easy-to-read. Although the text seems to be written from a secular viewpoint, you won't find many references to "millions of years" or a geologic time chart. Emphasis tends to be on the present-day qualities of rocks and the earth than their origins. Quizzes are composed primarily of fill-in-the-blank short answer questions, where all answers are supplied in a word bank. The hands-on activities offer a lot of variety. Some of the activities in Igneous Rocks include: drawing a cross-section of volcano and identifying where in the volcano different igneous rocks are formed, creating an igneous rocks notebook, building "crystals" out of gumdrops and toothpicks, testing the density of the rock samples, making an igneous rock game, and more. The accompanying kit contains twelve rock specimens, a small quantity of Mt. St. Helens ash, a small bag of Lapilli, a keychain loupe, and a specimen box. If you are planning on using a kit with multiple students, I would suggest purchasing additional loupes, such as we sell with The Private Eye curriculum.
The book doesn't offer a suggested time frame for completing the lessons, but you could easily spend three days to a week on each lesson with great results. The "unit" format of the kits means that you could either spend a concentrated year on earth science with these kits, or use one kit a year along with any other science study you are completing for a little more in-depth earth science each year. Completion of all of the kits would give students ample time to handle, identify, and test rock specimens to the point where they would probably have a much better handle on rocks than someone who had gone through a high school earth science course!
As noted above, textbooks in each kit are PDF files on CD. These are PC and Mac compatible and are full-color. This format offers you the flexibility of printing copies of activity pages and quizzes for multiple students without having to run to the copy machine! Hard copies of the texts are available from the company, but we opted to carry the less expensive and more flexible CD version. We are now offering combo kits, which include the text on CD, instructional DVD, and rocks. DVDs feature the author discussing concepts from the lessons, and showing examples (nice big samples) of rocks. These will not replace the lesson text; they are designed to accompany the textbook lessons. Enjoy your rock studies! I suspect you will, as these easy-to-use geology lessons and rock kits are sure to inspire you to learn with your specimens and even go collect your own. - Jess