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LEARN NC has compiled this selection of excellent instructional resources from our collection to help in teaching your students about rocks and minerals. We have also included virtual and other field trip opportunities to round out this hot topic.

Lesson Plans

Learning about rocks
In this lesson, students will be engaged in hands-on experiences while they explore rocks.(Grade 1 Mathematics and Science)
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. (Grade 4 Mathematics and Science)
Uses of Rocks and Minerals
In this lesson plan for grade 6, students will gain an understanding of the economic importance of rocks and minerals by exploring their applications in various careers. (Grade 6 Science)
How sedimentary rock is formed
This Science NetLinks lesson briefly reviews the rock cycle in general and then focuses on sedimentary rocks. In this lesson, students investigate the stripes in sedimentary rocks using a structure at Petra, in Jordan, as an example. Students then do a hands-on activity using mixed nuts to illustrate the layering of sedimentary rocks. (Grade 6 Science)


Rock Hounds with Rocky
Tools, rules and everything you need to become a rock “hound.” Animations, demonstrations, quizzes and puzzles about sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.
Mineral Information for Students
Learn about the importance of our natural resources. The site includes mineral photographs, common minerals and their uses, elements and their role in plant and animal life, and much more
USGS and Science Education
This site provides lots of information on the three rock groups: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, and has information about collecting rocks.
USGS Geology in the Parks: Rocks and Minerals
This site provides introductory information about rocks and minerals including igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Learn more about the geologic terms located in their Geologic Glossary.
North Carolina Geological Survey
This site provides lots of information on the three rock groups: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, and has information about collecting rocks.

Carolina Environmental Diversity Expeditions

Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations are virtual field trips to areas characterized by both beautiful scenery and useful lessons about North Carolina’s environment. Our state stretches from the Appalachian mountains to the sea. Along the way you can find rocks formed when the earth was only half as old as it is now, climate zones equivalent to those found near sea level from Georgia to Canada, and plants and animals as diverse as those of any state except California.

Lonely Mountains: The Monadnocks of the Inner Piedmont
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the “lonely mountains” of the North Carolina Piedmont. These mountains, called monadnocks, rise individually above the Piedmont plateau. Photographs show the topography of these mountains, including Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock, Stone Mountain, and Crowders Mountain. You’ll also learn about the mountains’ geology and how they were formed by erosion.
Roan Mountain Highlands: Rocks, Plants, and Preservation
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the natural beauty and geological and ecological diversity of the Roan Mountain Highlands that straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The rocks of Roan Mountain are interesting because of their age, their mineralogy, and the evidence they provide about the geological processes that formed them.

Field Trip Destinations

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.
Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson
A wonderful selection of minerals, gemstones, fossils, and Native American artifacts can be found in this museum.
Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum
Located in the “Old Jail” on Phillips Street across from the Macon County Courthouse, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum has gems, minerals, fossils, Indian artifacts, and much more.

More great rock and mineral field trip ideas can be found in Discover NC