Geology K-12 Outreach
Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award
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M & M Earth


  • Motivate children to find out about the Earth’s layers
  • Introduce the Earth’s layers and their characteristics
  • Begin discussion of how scientists know what the interior of the Earth is like with out seeing it


  • Overheads, peanut M&Ms, opaque 35-mm film canisters with something different inside each


  1. Begin class discussion by asking students, “How can you tell what something is like if you cannot see it?” List possible ways such as hearing, smelling, feeling, measuring mass, shaking it, etc. Discuss observations and inferences.
  2. Give each student a film can with something inside (paper clip, rice, water, flour, paper, etc.) that they cannot see. Have students write observations and inferences. Discuss as a whole class.
  3. Give each student a peanut M&M. Ask, “What can you observe about the candy?” Give them a few minutes to list observations in pairs, and then report to the class in turn.
  4. Tell students to bite into the candy, and draw and label the layers.
  5. On an overhead, draw and label the candy and corresponding Earth layers. Have students do the same. Discuss characteristics. Discuss how mantle can be solid and still flow. Have students label the characteristics.
  6. Discuss how scientists might have found out about the Earth’s interior if no one has seen it.

-- Contributed by Nancy Parson