Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students:

  • explore information about the role of geologists in science
  • discuss introductory information about rocks and the rock cycle
  • identify rock features in their school yard and/or local community areas
  • are introduced to the terms ‘sedimentary’, ‘igneous’, ‘metamorphic’, ‘weathering’ and ‘erosion’.


Introduce the context of the unit to students by reading the email from Professor Ruby Email and showing them the photographic diary sent to the class by Professor Ruby. Inform students that during this unit of work, they will be exploring geology.

Professor Ruby Email


Ask students to make suggestions about what they think the science of geology is. List student responses and group similar ideas.

Explain that the science of geology is the study of the Earth, of the rocks that comprise the Earth and how they change over time.

Inform students that studying rocks helps us to understand more about the Earth and its landscapes.


  1. Explain to the students that Professor Ruby is a geologist. Navigate through the learning object Meet a scientist: geologist to assist in the explanation.
    Explain to students that geologists:
    • work in a number of areas such as mining or on building development projects
    • conduct field studies and collect samples such as rocks and fossils
    • study landforms such as mountains to determine how they were formed
    • study local areas to determine their history
    • study rocks to determine how they age.
  2. Ask students to make suggestions about the types of tools and equipment a geologist might use when conducting their work. Navigate through the first section of the learning object Get into geology. This learning object depicts photographs of equipment a geologist uses and an explanation of their function.
  3. Inform students that Professor Ruby lives in Central Queensland and enjoys working and studying in her local area, exploring for fossils, rocks and gems and learning about the local landforms.
  4. Show students images of nationally significant Australian landforms (see gallery below).
    Explain why these landforms are interesting for geologists to study.
  5. Ask students to suggest landforms in their local area that might interest geologists and list them for students to view.
    Teacher note: Prior research may need to be conducted to identify local landform features. Where possible, have photographs of local land features to show students. If no features are easily identified in your local area, choose some significant landforms outside your local community or refer to the list above.
  6. Inform students that they are now going to explore types of rocks. Ask students to share their ideas about rocks that they may have seen or examined before.
  7. Inform students that rocks change over time and go through a cycle of building and breakdown called the ‘rock cycle’. Explain that this happens because there are different types of rocks that age and wear differently according to their composition.
  8. Show students sample rocks from each of the sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock groups.
    Teacher note: These can be rock specimens or images of rocks if specimens are unavailable.
  9. Navigate through the website Rock hound kids gallery to show images of a selection of rocks. Explain to students that while there are many varieties of rocks, most are categorised into one of three groups:
    • sedimentary
    • igneous
    • metamorphic.
  10. Navigate through the first section of the interactive website Interactives: rock cycle to give brief explanations of each type of rock and how they are formed. Teacher note: Students require only a basic introduction to rock types in order to understand how rocks weather and erode according to type.
  11. Inform students that during the next lesson, they will explore the concepts of weathering and erosion and how these affect rocks and landscapes.
    Teacher note: See Background information (PDF, 432 KB) for information regarding rocks, weathering and erosion.
  12. List the new terms and key concepts onto a Word Wall for later reference.


Images of nationally significant Australian landforms

WA Wave Rock.
Vic Twelve Apostles.
Vic Organ Pipes
NT Karlwe Karlwe (Devils Marbles).
NT Uluru (Ayers Rock)
NT Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).
NSW Bald Rock
NSW The Breadknife (Warrambungle National Park)
NSW Three Sisters.



Gather students together and explain that they will be going outside into the school grounds to look for rocks. They will identify them in the following lesson.

Move students through the school grounds examining rocks and collecting samples for identification.

Return to the classroom and store samples for use during the next lesson.

Inform students that during the next lesson they will be amateur geologists and examine types of rocks and soil.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Professor Ruby’s photographic diary (PDF, 3.02 MB)

L501 Meet a scientist: geologist, NDLRN. Learning object 

L3063 Get into geology, NDLRN, Learning object 

Rock hound kids gallery, Rockhoundkids.com. Images and information 

Interactives: rock cycle, Annenburg Learner. Learning object 

Useful links

Igneous rocks, Australian Museum. Image gallery 

Mr Lee – rock cycle rap, YouTube (3:51 mins) 

Shaping the Earth, Australian Museum. A variety of resources on rocks and minerals 

What is geology? What does a geologist do? Geology.com. News and information