Title: Mars Rocks

Is There Evidence that Liquid Water was Involved in their Formation?
(Middle and High School)

SSS: Middle School- SC.A.1.3, SC.E.1.3, SC.H.1.3, SC.H.2.3,
High School-SC.A.1.4, SC.E.1.4, SC.H.1.4, SC.H.2.4, SC.H.3.4, 
  • Students will learn that some of the types of rocks (minerals) that have been found on Mars show are either of Sedimentary origin or chemical weathering. 
  • Mars Rocks Collection containing rocks and minerals that are from the Earth but are similar to those which have been discovered on Mars:
1. Basalt (Flood) (MeFeSiO2)- Pullman, Washington
2. Hematite (Gray Massive) (Fe2O3)- Hoyt Lake, Minnesota 3. Hematite (Oolitic) (Fe2O3)- Clinton, New York
4. Ilmenite (FeTiO3)- St. Urbain, Quebec, Canada
5. Goethite/Limonite (FeO(OH)- Cartersville, Georgia
6. Hematite (Red Ochra) (Fe2O3)- Custer, South Dakota
7. Hematite (Banded) with Jasper- Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota
8. Magnetite (Loadstone) (Fe3O4)- Iron County, Utah
Commit to an Outcome
  • Can we determine by visual examination whether Mars type rock and mineral samples show that they were formed by liquid water through sedimentary processes or chemical weathering?
Expose Beliefs
  • What characteristic of rock formations indicate that they are of sedimentary origin?
  • What are ‘detrital’ sedimentary rocks?
  • What is the typical shape of most ‘detrital’ sedimentary rock individual grains?
  • What are chemical sedimentary rocks?
  • What is the common result of chemical weathering of iron materials?
Confront Beliefs
  • Give the students the Mars Rocks and Mineral Collections and a magnifier.
  • Students will observe the samples and list which rocks show sedimentary rock or chemical weathering characteristics. 
Accommodate the Concept
  • Have the students report which rocks and minerals appear to have sedimentary or chemical weathering characteristics. 
  • Discuss the findings of the ‘Spirit’ and "Opportunity’ rovers currently operating on the Martian surface. 
Extend the Concept Discuss how reflectance spectrometry will be used by the Moon and Mars Reconnaissance missions to determine the composition of the surface at various prospective landing sites from orbit.
Go Beyond
  • Do you think that rock, mineral, and water resources found on Mars can be used to support crewed missions to Mars?