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Metamorphic Rock Pressure & Heat Experiment

Metamorphic rocks are the rocks that were igneous or sedimentary and change either physically or chemically by heat, pressure, or hot, mineral-rich water. The term metamorphic comes from the Greek words “meta” which means change and “morph” which means form. This is a great outdoor experiment for colder climates or indoors if you have a shaved ice machine. With this experiment, you can see how pressure and heat change a rock using this simple experiment with snow or ice chips!

Supplies for the Metamorphic Rock Heat & Pressure Experiment:

  • Light, fluffy snow or shaved ice (enough to make two, fist-sized snowballs)
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Camera (optional)

Steps for the Heat & Pressure Experiment:

Step 1: Gather the snow into two loose snowballs.

Step 2: Wrap both hands around one of the snowballs and squeeze tightly for several seconds.

Step 3: Observe and document what happened to the snow or ice when you squeezed and heated it with your hands. Do the snowballs look different? If so, how?

Hint: When you squeezed the snowball, the snow melted and combined to form solid ice. The process of the snow melting and forming ice is a metamorphic process. The snow changed to from loose to compact ice because of the pressure from your hands. This is the same process that changes rocks like granite to gneiss.

You can find more great activities like these in our Rock Cycle Kit and Rock Detectives Kits! You can find out more about metamorphic rock in our My Rockin Collection! Metamorphic Rocks Junior Kit too.