8H The Rock cycle

We have already learned that we can class rocks into three different groups based on how they were formed.  In this topic we will learn about the powerful movements of the Earth’s crust and the magma kilometers below the surface that lead to the formation of igneous rocks and the transformation of metamorphic rocks.

We will carry out a practical investigation into formation of rock crystals, and compare properties of different igneous rocks.  You will learn characteristic features of all rock types.

We will learn to describe the formation, transformation and destruction of rocks as part of a millions of years long repeating cycle driven by the movement of the Earth’s crust – known as the Rock Cycle.

We will learn how this movement of the Earth’s crust leads to volcanos and mountain building.


By the end of this topic students will: be able to list the three main rock types; be able to distinguish granite from basalt by looking at mineral grain size; be able to explain that some of the different properties of basalt and granite are due to the way they were formed; be able to give examples of metamorphic rock and describe features we might expect to see in metamorphic rock formation; be able to explain features of metamorphic rock using knowledge of how the rock was formed; be able todescribe key processes involved in the Rock Cycle; be able to explain why the rock cycle depends on the movement of the Earth’s crust; be able to describe key features of a volcano.

Most students will: use data on volcanic island formation to calculate the rate of seafloor spreading; be able to use data on seafloor spreading to calculate the life of the Atlantic Ocean.

Some students will have progressed further and: have independently researched into the evidence that supports our model of the rock cycle and be able to describe how the Earth’s continents were once arranged quite differently.

How you can help your child

The Sedgwick museum on the Downing site is free and is open on Saturday mornings and has a display of crystals which might be fun to visit as well as fossils found in this area.

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