Antarctica: 90 Degrees South Western Reserve Public Media

Lesson Plans

Procedures for Using the Science Lesson Plans


Arctic vs. Antarctic

Food Webs



Cupcake Core Sampling

Wind Chill

Ozone Hole

Plate Tectonics


Cupcake Core Sampling



Trying to “see” what is beneath the surface of the earth is one of the jobs of a geologist. Rather than digging up vast tracts of land to expose an oil field, or to find coal-bearing strata, core samples can be taken and analyzed to determine the likely composition of the earth's interior.

The students will
model core sampling techniques to find out what sort of layers are in a cupcake;

make a core sample using cake material;

and write an explanation what they observed from their sample and how it relates to the core samples taken from the earth.


Standards Addressed

Earth Science
Grade 3

3-5 Benchmark

C. Describe Earth’s resources including rocks, soil, water, air, animals and plants and the ways in which they can be conserved.

Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G03-05.BC.L03.I02

02. Observe and investigate that rocks are often found in layers.


Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G03-05.BC.L03.I06

06. Investigate that soils are often found in layers and can be different from place to place.



Grade 8

6-8 Benchmark

E. Describe the processes that contribute to the continuous changing of Earth’s surface (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion, mountain building and lithospheric plate movements).

Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G06-08.BE.L08.I13

13. Describe how landforms are created through a combination of destructive (e.g., weathering and erosion) and constructive processes (e.g., crustal deformation, volcanic eruptions and deposition of sediment).


Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G06-08.BE.L08.I14

14. Explain that folding, faulting and uplifting can rearrange the rock layers so the youngest is not always found on top.



  • Cupcake mix

  • Plastic knives

  • Foil baking cups

  • Food coloring

  • Drawing paper

  • Toothpicks

  • Frosting

  • Plastic transparent straws



  1. The teacher or the students will make cupcakes with at least three layers of colored batter.

  2. Provide each student with a cupcake, straw, toothpick and drawing paper. Foil baking cups and frosting will prevent the students from seeing the interior of the cupcakes in much the same way that a geologist can’t see the interior of the earth.

  3. Ask the students to fold a piece of drawing paper into four sections and in one of the sections draw what they think the inside of the cupcake would look like.

  4. Ask the students how they might get more information about the cupcake without peeling the foil or cutting it open with a knife.

  5. Someone may suggest using the straw to take a core sample. If not, show them how to push the straw into the cupcake and pull out a sample (straws can be cut to a length slightly longer than the depth of the cupcake.)

  6. The students should make a second drawing of the cross section of their cupcake based on the information from three core samples. Each new drawing should be carefully labeled and placed in a different section of the recording paper.

  7. Finally, the students should cut open the cupcakes with a knife to compare them to the drawings. Keep relating what the students are doing to what real-life geologists do. Nobody eats until the discussion is complete!



CATEGORY 30 20 10 5
Diagrams & Illustrations Diagrams and illustrations are neat, accurate and add to the reader’s understanding of the topic. Diagrams and illustrations are accurate and add to the reader’s understanding of the topic. Diagrams and illustrations are neat and accurate and sometimes add to the reader’s understanding of the topic. Diagrams and illustrations are not accurate OR do not add to the reader’s understanding of the topic.
Organization Information is very organized with well-constructed paragraphs and subheadings. Information is organized with well-constructed paragraphs. Information is organized, but paragraphs are not well-constructed. The information appears to be disorganized.
Mechanics No grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. Almost no grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors A few grammatical spelling or punctuation errors. Many grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.


Copyright. © 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997 ALTec, The University of Kansas

Adapted from materials provided by Women in Mining
This lesson plan can be found at

A similar lesson titled Layer Cake Geology can be found at




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