What Rocks on Your Block?

Part of Curriculum Collections.


Geology is everywhere.

The rocks and geologic features we live on and near play an important role in our natural history and have much to teach us. However, in urban environments it can be challenging to see a variety of rocks. Even though many cities, including New York, do have natural outcrops, these tend to be limited, and many city dwellers don’t have regular access to them.

That's where buildings come in.

Even when we cannot easily go see geology, we can take advantage of the constructed world, which has brought geology to us. Many of the natural materials used to construct buildings have been shaped for people’s viewing pleasure. They give us access to a wide variety of rocks, fossils, and minerals without having to travel far.

These tours provide an example of how we can use the constructed world to teach geology and Earth science in our own communities. Although building stones lack their original context, they offer students excellent opportunities to practice their observational skills. Additionally, the tour allows us to connect the cross-cutting concepts of science, architecture, art, and history.

What rocks are on your block?

What Rocks on Your Block StoryMaps Walking Tours

Midtown East Tour

Fifth Avenue Tour

Who We Are

Dr. Steven Jaret is an Assistant Professor at Kingsborough Community College (CUNY) and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. He has a graduate degree in geology from Stony Brook University. Dr. Jaret’s research interests include rocks and minerals, geology of New York and New England, and a comparison of all planets across the Solar System.

Dr. Melanie Hopkins is an Associate Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology and Chair of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. She has a graduate degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. Dr. Hopkins’ research interests include the early evolution of animals, particularly trilobites, and using the fossil record to better understand evolutionary processes over geologic time scales.

Mr. Leonard Melzer is an Earth Science teacher at the Manhattan International High School. He has a graduate degree in teaching science from Stony Brook University. Mr. Melzer’s interests include the rocks and minerals of New York City, the glacial evolution of Long Island, and current/future advancements in both public and private space industries.

Contact: Steven Jaret ([email protected])