Where’s Aaron: YEAR 2 - Science - Explain

The class is taking turns hosting ‘Aaron’ the class mascot, taking him on adventures. It is Little J’s turn, so Little J, Nanna, Big Cuz, and Old Dog take Aaron on Country to look for mica rock, and along the way they photograph the expedition. Distracted by the events of the day, Little J loses Aaron and the family enrols the help of Uncle Mick, a Search and Rescue officer, to return him.

Explain - Use a range of methods to sort information, including drawings and provided tables and through discussion, compare observations with predictions


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 8 ‘Where’s Aaron?’, engage students with the following activities to support their investigation of minerals such as mica and ochre and their observable properties and uses.

Little J finds mica rock on country. Explain that some of the other names for mica include ‘cats gold’ and ‘glimmer’. Discuss with students why Little J is interested in mica, and what is special about it. Revisit the facts about mica:

Mica rock particles glitter in the sun. Mica appears to be made from thin sheets (sediments) set together to form a solid ‘igneous’ (volcanic) or metamorphic rock. Under a microscope, these sheets look like (polygonal and hexagonal) crystals.  Mica is also form in combination with Fluorite, Muscovite (potassium mica), Lepidolite, Phlogopite (magnesium mica), and vermiculite (hydrated mica). Two rocks never look the same in shape. Mica, Mining Link

Suggested teacher resources:

Provide students with samples of gneiss and granite which contains mica. Have students use the magnifying glass to hunt for mica ‘glints’ or sparkles. 

“Mica is shiny and flakes easily into small, flat pieces that catch the light when they are embedded into other types of rocks. One way that these shiny little flakes get into other rocks is when they are washed into oceans and the sea bed by rivers and floods, and settle, with other particles, in the sediment at the bottom. This is how some sedimentary rocks are formed.” Mica, Mining Link

“In central Australia, Aboriginal peoples operated mines where they extracted red and white ochre for making paint that was used for rock art, body paint and in ceremonies.  Ochre is essentially iron oxide. The most highly prized white ochre is a type of white ochre that shimmers. When painted on the body, and seen in a firelight, it seems to glow. This is because this type of ochre has tiny pieces of mica in it, like glitter. The iridescent (shimmering) ochre was mainly found at Parachilna in South Australia. Because of this scarcity, Aboriginal peoples came from as far away as Cloncurry, Queensland, to trade for this special ochre. The distance between Parachilna and Cloncurry is over 1300 km.” Mining by Aborigines – Australia's first miners,

Examples of other traded commodities:

Mica experiment

1. Gather the following items for the experiment:

  • a small amount of vermiculite, obtainable from a garden centre. Use vermiculite under controlled conditions observing the safety instructions. vermiculite can be found in garden centres and is a common additive to seed raising soils. Keep the sample damp to prevent dust inhalation; provide masks or gloves as needed.
  • 5 small clear glass jars
  • water, approximately enough to fill one of the jars
  • milk
  • a torch
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 drop of food colouring

2. Fill all the jars ¾ full of water.

3. Add one tablespoon of damp vermiculite to each jar.

Secure a lid and shake the jar. Have students predict what will happen, and observe and record what does happens.

Turn off the lights and shine a torch through the liquid. Have students predict what will happen, and observe and record what does happens (shining glints of light can be seen when the mixture is shaken).

4. Add milk to all but one of the jars of water until each jar is almost full. Ask students to predict and observe what happens to the way light behaves when a torch shines light through the liquid. (The particles of protein and fat in the water disperse the light and the whole jar glows.)

5. Put one jar of milk and water aside. Then add just one additional ingredient to each of the remaining three jars: a teaspoon of vinegar; a teaspoon of vegetable oil; a drop of food colouring. Shake the mix and observe each jar. Ask students to predict, observe and record what happens in each jar.

6. Label the five jars:

  • Jar 1: vermiculite flakes in water
  • Jar 2: vermiculite flakes in water, with milk added
  • Jar 3: vermiculite flakes in water, with milk and vinegar
  • Jar 4: vermiculite flakes in water, with milk and vegetable oil
  • Jar 5: vermiculite flakes in water, with milk and a drop of food colouring

7. Document the properties of light when a torch is shone through the jars in a dark room. As a class, explore words such as ‘pearlescent’, ‘luminous’ &/or ‘luminosity’, and ‘translucency’. Allow the vermiculite to settle at the bottom of the jar and predict what happens when flakes of mica settle at the bottom of water and merge with other particles into sedimentary rocks.

Have each student enter the information on how Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples used mica, their own predictions and results of the experiment, and any accompanying images and diagrams about mica into their own science journal. The journal records all the observations, research, evaluations and reflections a student has about the science they discover.

A science journal is a record of a students’ observations, experiences and reflections. Each entry is dated and annotated by the student. Annotations may include written labels, drawings, diagrams, charts, small specimens, photographs, and graphs. Student engagement and learning is evident in the science journal.”

Sourced from: Primary Connections, Linking science with literacy