K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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CareerStart lessons: Grade six
This collection of lessons aligns the sixth grade curriculum in math, science, English language arts, and social studies with potential career opportunities.
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Related pages

  • Minerals and math: Students will develop ways to create self-devised rules for classifying minerals and relate this information to scientific ways of classifying minerals according to their characteristics. They will then compile this information into a chart and convert parts of the chart into a line or bar graph.
  • Study your rocks and eat them too!: The instructor will use a liquid batter to cook pancakes to model the formation of igneous rocks.
  • Colburn Earth Science Museum: The best rock and mineral specimens from the Burnham Standish Colburn collection are housed in the Colburn Earth Science Museum. Students will enjoy the programs that are centered around this collection of fossils, gems, and North Carolina minerals.

Related topics


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Learning outcomes

Students will explore careers and describe the uses of earth materials including the economic use of rocks and minerals.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” student sheet
  • Transparency of “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” student sheet
  • Pencil
  • Overhead projector
  • Rocks and Minerals Teacher Reference Pages,” consisting of
    • Answer page for “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” student sheet
    • Resource pages listing the uses of 34 rocks and minerals
    • Resource pages listing the responsibilities and educational requirements of 34 careers that work with rocks and minerals
    • Reference pages listing minerals associated with each career
    • Reference pages listing careers associated with each rock/mineral

Time required for lesson

Approximately 70 minutes class time.
Homework time will be needed at the end of the lesson.

Advance preparation

  • Make copies of “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” student sheet for every student. Make a transparency of the handout to project in the classroom.
  • Make copies of “Rocks/Minerals Uses Resource Pages” and “Rocks/Minerals Career Resource Pages” (in “Rocks and Minerals Teacher Reference Pages).” Cut apart to hand out individual careers and uses to students.

Prior knowledge needed

A basic understanding of rocks and minerals will be needed to complete this mini-lesson. This lesson would work well as a supplement to the SEPUP Rocks & Minerals module.


  1. Hand out “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” student sheet to each student and have them complete the hypothesis column only. (5 minutes)
  2. Place the transparency of “Uses of Rocks and Minerals” on the overhead. Go through each material counting the number of students who answered NO and YES for each, and write it on the overhead. Review correct answers with students. (10 minutes)
  3. Have students suggest other products that are made from rocks and minerals. Write the suggestions on the overhead. (5 minutes)
  4. Have students suggest occupations that deal with rocks and minerals. Write the suggestions on the overhead. Emphasize the importance of rocks and minerals to our lifestyle and economy. (5 minutes)
  5. Give each student a rock/mineral and a career. Have students follow the procedure on the student page. Tell students not to duplicate careers or rocks/minerals. Use the teacher reference chart (in “Rocks and Minerals Teacher Reference Pages”) to help any students who need assistance finding careers and rocks/minerals that correspond to each other. (45 minutes)


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

Mineralogy 4 Kids
The Mineralogical Society of America’s interactive website for kids, including basic information about rocks and minerals, games, and a discussion board to ask questions of mineralogists. Reading level 3-6.
“Chapter 2: Earth, Rocks, and Landforms” by Geology for Kids
Part of an in-depth online textbook for kids including geology and mineralogy information and games. Reading level 4-6.
Mineralogist: Related Careers
A list of careers related to mineralogy, including a description; interests and skills; typical tasks; workplaces, employers, and industries; and required education.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • 6.E.2 Understand the structure of the earth and how interactions of constructive and destructive forces have resulted in changes in the surface of the Earth over time and the effects of the lithosphere on humans. 6.E.2.1 Summarize the structure of the earth,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 6

  • Goal 3: The learner will build an understanding of the geological cycles, forces, processes, and agents which shape the lithosphere.
    • Objective 3.04: Describe the processes which form and the uses of earth materials.
      • Rock cycle.
      • Minerals.
      • Characteristics of rocks.
      • Economic use of rocks and minerals.
      • Value of gems and precious metals.
      • Common gems, minerals, precious metals and rocks found in N.C.