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FOSS Earth History Investigation 3: Grand Canyon Rocks ( 5 days)
Big Idea

To build the concept of a rock layer as a three-dimensional structure and learn that the Colorado Plateau comprises many layers
The geological time scale interpreted from rock strata provides a way to organize Earth's history. Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale. (A Framework for K-12 Education: Core Idea ESS1.C)
Essential Questions
How did Powell investigate and record his findings in the Grand Canyon?
How do different areas in the Grand Canyon compare to each other?
How do different areas of the Colorado Plateau compare to one another?
Why do different rocks weather and erode differently?

Keep a record of observations, notes, sketches, questions, and ideas using tools such as written and/or computer logs.
Formulate a conclusion based on data analysis.
Formulate new questions based on the results of a previous investigation.
Form a logical argument about a correlation between variables or sequence of events (e.g., construct a cause-and-effect chain that explains a sequence of events).
Compare photographs and rocks representing two locations in the Grand Canyon. Use acid test for calcium carbonate in a rock sample. Identify and name three sedimentary rocks: limestone, sandstone and shale. Correlate the rocks from two locations along the Colorado River. Investigate how differential erosion has changed the landscape of the Colorado Plateau.
Science & Engineering Practices
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: students organize, make observations, and run an acid test.
Developing and Using Models:  students correlate rock layers
Analyzing and Interpreting Data:  students analyze data of Colorado Plateau rock layers to predict other areas
Content/Core Ideas
  • Rock layers, such as those in the Grand Canyon, are three-dimensional features.
  • The sequence of rocks is the same from one location to another along the canyon.
  • Different rates of erosion or differential erosion is caused by differences in the properties of rock layers.
Crosscutting Concepts
Cause and Effect
Learning Practices
CC:7.RI.6  students read an excerpt from John Wesley Powell's journal
CC:7.W.2 students edit their quick-write regarding lines on the canyon walls
Academic Vocabulary
  • sample
  • limestone
  • sandstone
  • shale
  • correlate
  • layers
  • plateau
  • rock collumn
  • formations
  • differential erosion
Mid-summative Exam 3
Grand Canyon Rock Line-up
Grand Canyon Rock Correlating Questions
assess quick-write
Chuar Butte Observations