Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center 

TITLE:  Weathering Experiments:
        Sugar Cubes, Steel Wool and Gravel !!!

AUTHOR:  Kate Hayne, Soroco Junior High School;
         Oak Creek, CO


RESOURCES/MATERIALS:  For each group of students:
10 sugar cubes
jar with a lid
10 pieces of gravel
2 small pieces of steel wool
2 small plastic bags

OBJECTIVE:  To allow the students to see both chemical and
physical weathering of "rocks"


                   Steel Wool Experiment

1.   Students should label one bag "dry" and put one small
     piece of steel wool in that bag.
2.   Students should label the other bag "wet", wet the
     other piece of steel wool, and put it in the bag.
3.   Both bags should be sealed and stored for 3-4 days.

1.   In what ways are the bags the same?
2.   In what way(s) do the bags differ?
3.   Examine the wool from the "dry" bag.  Please describe
     its appearance.
4.   Try to pull the steel wool apart.  Is it easy or hard
     to pull apart?
5.   Work over a piece of white paper.  Carefully roll the
     piece of steel wool between your fingers.  Describe
     what has fallen on the white paper.
6.   Examine the steel wool from the "wet" bag and repeat
     the steps in 3-5 above.
7.   How were the wet and dry steel wool different?
8.   What caused the changes in the wet steel wool?
9.   What kind of weathering is this?
10.  Please explain how this kind of weathering could happen
     to a rock.

                   Sugar Cubes and Gravel

1.   Describe the appearance of the sugar cubes.
2.   Place the sugar cubes in the jar and shake 20 times.
3.   Pour the contents of the jar onto a piece of paper
     separating the sugar cubes and the crumbs. (don't eat
     any of it !!!)
     a.   Describe any changes you notice in the sugar
     b.   Were these changes due to chemical or physical
          weathering?  Why?
4.   Return the sugar cubes to the jar and shake another 20
5.   Again pour the contents onto a piece of paper
     separating the crumbs and the cubes.
     a.   did the second shaking cause the cubes to look
          more worn?
     b.   Is the amount of crumbs greater than, the same
          as or less than the first shaking?

** REPEAT the above using pieces of gravel instead of sugar

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