Rock World

Rock World students filed into the locker room holding cardboard trays piled with sculptures made of cans, bottles, boxes, and other recyclables. The room was completely covered in clear painters’ plastic from the floor to halfway up the walls. It was time to get messy.

“We’re going to put grout and rocks on our rock castle skeletons,” explained Tanner. “When we cover it in rocks it’ll look like a castle.”

Designated geologists from each work group gathered materials for the masonry work. Grout geologist Francis returned to his group with a bowl of thick gray grout. “This is used for sticking things together,” Francis said. “It’s not like glue, but it dries really quickly. It’s easy to stick rocks together with it.” Castle builders dug red plastic trowels into the grout and started spreading.

Josephine was not finding it “easy to stick rocks together.” “It’s not sticking! This is like a natural disaster!” she cried. “If there’s a child that doesn’t know what the word disaster means, they just look at this and say, ‘Oh, I now know.’”

Clara also struggled momentarily. “I’m trying to make a secret compartment, but it’s not working,” she said. When the rocks kept sticking to the grout on her hands instead of the wall of her castle, she realized her issue. “I think I’m too messy,” she laughed, holding up her grout covered fingers.

But after a bit of trial and error, students discovered techniques that made the mortar hold. Zoe successfully covered one of her four defense towers in stone and advised her geologist friends. “You start with large rocks at the bottom so you can support the top rocks,” she said. “And, more grout is our strategy!”

Myra’s castle design included what she called a treasure chest room. “You can actually open it,” she said. She carefully pulled open the lid of the plastic container forming the main structure of her castle and peered inside. A couple of rocks peeled off the sides as the “roof” lifted. “My rocks are slipping! I guess I should let it dry before I open the treasure chest,” she realized.

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