Great Geology Activities for Young Children

You can engage young children in geology activities easily by tapping into their innate curiosity. Geology study can be started at a very young age, and the interest can last for years. Whether a formal geology class is in session, or a parent-child activity is in store, you can find many ways to share the amazing features of our world with your kids. Here are two activities to get you started.

Astronaut Observation
This exercise shows children how to use their powers of observation to describe objects. To prepare, gather a selection of round food items with different textures, such as nuts, a potato, a roll, candy, kidney beans and a tortilla. Put each item into its own opaque plastic bag. Make sure that the kids can't see what's inside. Give each participant paper and a pencil.

Start out by showing the kids pictures of the moon. Ask them to describe the rocks they see on the moon surface, using very descriptive words, such as heavy, light, dry, crumbly, bumpy, etc.

Now tell the kids that they are astronauts on a mission on a new planet. They have collected these samples that they need to describe with descriptive words. Let them hold the bags of items one at a time, then write two or three sentences describing each one. When the descriptions are written, set the items out in one row and the descriptions in another row. Have the kids try to match the description to the item.

Rotation Orbit Experience
This exercise shows children an example of centripetal force, which keeps the moon orbiting the Earth and planets orbiting the Sun. You need a rubber ball or tennis ball, a ribbon one or two yards long and a sharp skewer to pierce the ball.

Prepare the experiment by piercing the ball all the way through. Thread the ribbon through the ball, knotting it at the end. Pull the knot inside the ball so it stays secure.

Go outside where there is plenty of room. Swing the ball in a continuous circle. Let go and watch the direction that the ball and ribbon travel when you let go of the ribbon. The ribbon will make it easy for kids to track the path of the ball. Discuss the path the ball took. Did it go straight? Did it continue on a circular path? Compare the path to the orbit of the moon around the Earth. There is no ribbon, but gravity keeps the moon orbiting in the same way. 

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