Shifting Sand

By Marianne Bonnemeir & Corkie Neumann

Background

Sand is a term that describes a particle size that can range from very coarse (2mm) to very fine (0.125mm). Sand can be found in a variety of environments. Sand particles accumulate at various positions along a river. Sand can be found in abundance along coastlines at different locations. Sand can also be found in deserts and in oceans. However, not all sand is the same. To the earth scientist studying a sand sample, the composition of the parent rock, the types of weathering, and the length of transportation can all be revealed.

Objective

To use observations and math skills to examine the composition of sand.

Time

Class period.

Materials: Centimeter grid paper, four different kinds of sand, ruler, and toothpick.

Procedure

  1. Take centimeter grid paper & sprinkle one teaspoon of sand onto the paper.
  2. Using the edge of the ruler remove all sand except a one centimeter grid. Return all excess sand to original container.
  3. On the grid paper using toothpicks separate grains of sand into separate piles according to color.
  4. Count the grains of each color and fill in the data table.

Mineral/Color Number of Grains (Prediction) Number of Grains (Actual) Percent (Prediction) Percent (Actual)
         
         
         
         

Conclusion:

  1. What mineral appeared the most in your sand?
  2. What mineral appeared the least in your sand?
  3. Complete the following chart using data collected for the other groups.

     

    Mineral/Color Group 1% Group 2% Group 3%
           
           
           

     

  4. Are the percentages for each group of minerals the same or different. Why?
  5. Construct a pie graph showing your percentages of minerals in the sand.