Model of the Earth
demonstrationactivity exercisesuggested grade levels: K-1

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Here is a geological model that's fun to build, and lets you see what the inside of the earth looks like. It also helps you to visualize how thin and flexible earth's crust really is.

1/4 cup (31 g) of powdered milk (non-instant is best, but instant will do) 1/2 cup (110 g) of chocolate chips Waxed paper
1/2 cup (70 g) of sesame seeds or graham cracker crumbs 1/4 cup (100 g) of honey Large bowl
1/2 cup (170 g) of strawberry, cherry, or raspberry jam Dull dinner knife Spoon
1/2 cups (170 g) of creamy peanut butter Measuring cups  

1. Wash your hands
2. Put 1/2 cup (170 g) of peanut butter and 1/4 cup (31 g) of powdered milk into the howl. Mix it with the spoon or with your hands. Add 1 teaspoon of honey in order to make a stiff dough. You may need more (or less) honey depending on how stiff or runny the peanut butter is. Keep adding honey a little at a time until the dough feels like clay dough.
3. Scoop up a small, round spoonful of dough and roll it into a ball.
4. Put the ball down on a piece of waxed paper and carefully cut the ball in half. Be careful not to squash the ball when you cut it.
5. Use the tip of the spoon handle to scoop out a small hole in the center of each half of the ball. The hole should be about the size of the tip of your little finger.
6. Use the spoon handle tip to put a small amount of jam into the holes you have scooped out. Now place a single chocolate chip in the middle of the jam in one of the halves of the ball. Don't put a chocolate chip in the other half. You now have created the core of the earth (the chocolate chip), surrounded by the hot, molten outer core (the jam)-all surrounded by the semi-liquid magma (peanut butter mixture)!
7. Place the two halves of the ball back together and roll it a little in your hands to seal the seam.
8. Pour out about 1/2, cup (70 g) of sesame seeds or graham cracker crumbs onto another piece of waxed paper. Roll the ball around in the seeds or crumbs to thoroughly coat it. This coating is the rocky crust of the earth.
9. To complete the experiment, carefully cut the ball in half again so that you can see the layers: core, outer core, magma, and crust. Think about the real earth and its layers as you slowly chew your earth ball. Earth balls are so delicious that you'll want to make more to snack on and give to friends. Stored in the refrigerator in a closed container, they will keep for a long time.

After you complete the activity above, make another batch and leave them whole. Once they are cool, gently stick your finger into the earth ball, push slowly upwards (simulating an upwelling mantle plume) and see how readily the "crust" warps, rises and breaks causing your own small eruption. Depending on how fast you push and the amount of pressure you use different "eruptions" will occur. To begin to see how explosive, and how rapid different inner earth, topography forming processes are see if you can simulate the effects of (seen by the shape your jam eruptions happen in and the shape your crust is in after) try to make buttes, domes, shield volcanoes, calderas, hoodoos, bombs etc.

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson Plan provided by Alan Anderson, Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst with permission from Geology Crafts for Kids, 2000
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: