Marble: A Carver's Delight
Lesson plan based on Cycladic Figure
Explore the formation and physical properties of marble and why it is a popular stone to carve.
Skills and Focus: Earth Sciences
Subject Area: Science
Thematic Connection: Connecting Past and Present
Grade Level: Secondary School
Time Needed: 60 minutes
Understand that different kinds of stone have different physical properties.
Understand the relationship between formation processes and stone properties.
Learn how different properties can be used and manipulated by artisans.
Instructional Materials Needed
Story: How was this made
Two different types of marble (Check with a funerary monuments dealer for discarded fragments.)
Other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks for contrast (granite, slate)
Low-power optical microscope
Step 1: After watching Cycladic Stone Carving, discuss with students the properties that make marble a good stone for carving: fracturing properties, translucency and color properties, polishing properties.
Step 2: Tell students to investigate the formation of marble with a standard geology textbook. They should read about the properties of sedimentary versus igneous and metamorphic rocks, and look for the answers to these three questions:
In what ways does marble behave like a sedimentary rock?
In what ways does it conform to the properties of a metamorphic rock?
How are these properties important to it as a sculptural material?
Step 3: Have students look at the different rock samples under a microscope at low power (20x) and make observations about the structure of marble in comparison to the other stones. Students should note grain size, crystal formation, and crystal shape.
This activity meets Illinois State Goal 12: Have a working knowledge of the fundamental concepts and principles of the life, physical, and earth/space sciences and their connections.
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