Request Info


Pali Institute instructor shows students part of large rock in woods
1 Class Session, 1.5 Hours

Students will explore the mechanics of the layers of the Earth through conducting an investigation to determine the percentage of iron on the surface of Earth. Using a magnet and soil collected from around Pali, students will complete an iron extraction with the help of the instructor. Students will also use tectonic plate blocks, Pangea Puzzle, and swirl bottles to help them conclude there is more iron in the deeper layers of the Earth.

What’s Covered

The class begins by identifying a trend between the layers of the earth and their percent composition iron: the deeper the layer, the higher the iron content. Students then hypothesize what they think the iron content is on the surface of the Earth and why iron content increases with depth. Rotating through (4) interactive stations covering different geological concepts, from sample analysis to plate tectonics and convection, students try to answer these questions.

Lessons & Activities

Iron Extraction

Using a magnet and funnel, students sift through a Pali soil sample and extract any iron found, watching as the iron follows the magnet and moves away from the rest of the sample. The weight of iron extracted is used to calculate the percent iron of the soil, or of the surface on Earth. Students then compare their results to their hypothesis from the start of the class.

Plate Tectonics

Students play with tectonic plate blocks, an ocean spreading box and a Pangea puzzle to foster an understanding of how plates shift over long periods of time, creating geologic formations such as mountains and valleys.

Materials Comparison

Students use a scale balance to compare the weights of (4) different substances—iron, water, salt water, and soil without iron—considering that perhaps the weight of a substance might affect it’s movement between the layers of the earth.

Lava Lamps & Swirl Bottles

Students observe the motion of the fluids within a swirl bottle and heated lava lamp, relating this back to the convection process and movement of magma within the mantle.

Educational Standards

Applicable Common Core/Next Generation Standards:

  • NGSS-MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
  • NGSS-MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • NGSS MS-PS4-2: Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
  • NGSS MS-EDD2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
  • NGSS MS-ESS2-1: Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the glow of energy that drives this process.
  • NGSS-3-5-ETS1-1: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • NGSS-3-5-ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • NGSS 4-ESS3-2: Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Ready to Get Started?

Accelerate your students’ learning with our exciting curriculum. Learn more about this hands-on, experiential education activity today.

Pali Institute students inspect large rock in woods
Raving Reviews

What People Are Saying

I loved my experience at Pali. In my time as an instructor, I was able to develop many skills in the classroom as a teacher and as a leader. I would highly recommend this position for anyone who would like to start a career in the Outdoor Education Industry.

Alicia G., Instructor

Thank you so much for an incredible week. The kids are jazzed; parents are more jazzed. Your team is incredible, and the planning and execution for a top notch science/outdoor education/leadership camp is celebrated. We are so glad we found you.

Danielle V., Teacher

Impressive! This is our first time to Pali. I have taken students to four other SoCal science camps and I would highly recommend Pali and plan to return next year.

Janice K., Educator

Source: Yelp