Journey to the Earth’s Core





Name of Activity Journey to the Earth’s Core
Author Kristen Burns and Sarah Halpert
Keywords sturdy car, rock, travel, ramp, layers, earth, crust, mantle, core, axles, bushings, car, density, plate tectonics, mass, friction
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description The kid’s needed to design a sturdy car that will hold a rock (small pebble). The car will then
travel down a ramp that is labeled with the layers of the earth. The upper half of the ramp
was the crust and the lower half of the ramp was the mantle. The floor directly after the ramp
was labeled the outer core and following the outer core was the inner core section. The kids
had to adjust the axles and bushings on the car to allow it to travel farther. Once the cars were
finished we tested them on the ramp to see how far into the “earth” they went.
Lesson Objectives: Review density and how to measure the mass of an object

Build a sturdy car and tweak it to allow it to travel the furthest down the ramp

Learn the layers of the earth

Materials Needed: Simple Machine Kit

Materials for a ramp

Paper to cover the ramp that depicts the layers of the earth

Small rocks


Preparation and Set Up: Get a large piece of paper and cut it down to fit the ramp while allowing some extra to account
for the outer and inner core section. Design the paper with fun facts about each layer
(temperature, thickness, etc.).
Necessary Background Vocabulary:

Plate Tectonics


Axle and Bushing


Procedure 1. Explain density and the theory of plate tectonics. Also, review how to measure the mass of an object. 2. Have them start building the cars. Make sure that the cars have a spot to hold the rock and that they are sturdy. Explain how to adjust the bushings to account for less friction. 3. Take the mass of the rock. 4. Test the cars on the ramp and see how far into the “earth” they were able to travel. 5. Fill out the worksheet.
Extensions: If a group finishes early ask them if they can make the car go further.

Moving Through the Mantle





Name of Activity Moving Through the Mantle
Author STOMP
Keywords igneous rocks, mantle, transport, NXT, earth
Subject NXT
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description To build an extension to the Magic School Bus that will clear a path through the igneous rocks to gravel through the mantle and transport passengers.
Lesson Objectives: - To design a structure that is capable of moving objects.
- To program the “School Buses” to travel for a given length of time.
Materials Needed: - Pre-Constructed LEGO NXT cars (from lesson 1)
- Various LEGO pieces
- Pre-assembled tunnel (of cardboard, book lining sides and a board for a top.
- Pieces of sponges to represent igneous rocks
- Miscellaneous objects (for extensions)
- Computers running MINDSTORMS
Preparation and Set Up: - Lay out sponge pieces in a path.
- Construct a tunnel with an opening that is wide enough for an NXT vehicle to fit through.
- Set up computers running MINDSTORMS.

- Arrange students in groups of 2 – 4.

- Distribute NXT cars and LEGO kits.

Necessary Background Vocabulary:
Igneous rock
  1. Tell students that they will be navigating their NXT vehicle through the igneous rock and the mantle, carrying passengers the whole way.
  2. Students must first design an extension that will push the sponge pieces (igneous rock) out of the way of their vehicle.
  3. Then, they will need to program their car to travel through the tunnel and stop so that they can drop off their passengers. This can be done using time or a light sensor.
  4. Let students test their designs on the igneous rocks and through the tunnel.
  5. Students will program their vehicles to stop exactly where passengers must be picked up or dropped off.
  6. At the end of class, come together and let each group show-off their design. Discuss the features of the igneous rock layer and the mantle.
Extensions or Modifications: - Program the NXT to play a song once it gets through the mantle.
- Try moving heavier objects in place of igneous rocks.
Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3

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