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Your teacher will pass around a stick of red sealing wax. Feel it, look at it, remember your observations. After each of you has examined it, it will be placed near a heater or a sunny window, so that it will be warmed.

When it is warmed, examine it again, remembering how it looked and felt before it was warmed, and describe what changes took place. You may want to make some notes in your science notebook.

Now your teacher will hold one end of the sealing wax in a candle flame, and let the wax drop onto a sheet of cardboard.

Why on earth do you think we are doing this for a geology class?

The characteristics of the sealing wax are similar to those of thick, molten, pliable rock within the earth. (That's why!)

The hot, plastic* rock within the earth is called magma, but when magma comes to the surface of the earth, it is called lava. When magma cools, it hardens (like the sealing wax) and forms masses of hard rock.

This is a very simple explanation of the changes that take place in rock, from the molten (magma) stage to the hard rock stage that lava forms. The changes that occur are really extremely complicated. Many vulcanologists (scientists who specialize in the study of volcanoes) have studied about magma and the changes it takes for their entire lives, and still, they do not have all the answers.

*In geology, the word "plastic" does not mean the substance of which credit cards are made. To a geologist, "plastic" is an adjective meaning "able to be shaped or molded."

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