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Classroom, Lab and Field Activities

This collection of teaching materials has been contributed by geoscience faculty. Do you have a favorite lab, demonstration or activity? If so, please consider sharing it with the larger community.


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Extending Mineralogy by Electron Microprobe Analysis part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
John Goodge, University of Minnesota-Duluth
This lab is designed to be a highly interactive lab session for a petrology course, where instructors provide a minimal level of essential background and then the entire group works together to explore mineral ...

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Mineral Synthesis and X-Ray Diffraction Experiments part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus; , Dickinson State University
This 6-week laboratory activity has students working in groups of two or more to synthesize a mineral and then analyze their mineral using XRD.

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A Fun and Effective Exercise for Understanding Lattices and Space Groups part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This activity uses figures from Francois Brisse as Esher drawings to teach students about 2-dimensional symmetry, especially involving translation.

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A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher, Union College- New York
This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 mineral hand samples by their distinguishing characteristics.

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A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher, Union College- New York
This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 mineral hand samples by their distinguishing characteristics.

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Determining the Geologic History of Rocks from a Gravel Deposit part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Cooperative Learning:Examples
Activity designed by Daniel Rolf Tucker, Melinda Riddler Tucker, and William Albert Rieck of the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Starting Point page developed by John McDaris.
Gravels deposited as a result of continental glaciation are used to teach introductory-level earth-science students the application of the scientific method in a cooperative learning mode which utilizes hands-on, ...

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Exercises to teach scientific reading comprehension and mineralogic concepts part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher, Union College (Lincoln, NE)
With a set of tasks and questions as a guide, students read through an article doing the tasks and answering questions as they go. The object is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the science in the paper.

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Research Experiences in a Mineralogy Class part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Dave Mogk, Montana State University Summary One of the goals of my Mineralogy class is to demonstrate how the principles and content covered in class can be applied to questions of geologic interest or that have ...

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Weathering of Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary Rocks in a Semi-Arid Climate - An Engineering Application of Petrology part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Wendy Harrison, National Science Foundation; Ric Wendlandt, Colorado School of Mines
Students examine soils developed on igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks near Denver, Colorado. The 2-week exercise includes sample collection, description, and preparation, determining clay mineralogy by ...

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Growing Salt: An Independent Course Research Project Investigating Chemical Sediments part of Cutting Edge:Sedimentary Geology:Activities
Kathy Benison, Central Michigan University
In this assignment, students design, implement, and report on their own mini-research project involving the growth of salts. This gives students practical research experience, as well a better understanding of how ...

Density of rocks - How large is a ton of rock? part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Len Vacher, Dept of Geology, University of South Florida
This module addresses the problem of how to determine the size of a ton of rocks of a given composition and invites the student to figure out how to solve the problem.

What does the core/mantle boundary look like? part of Cutting Edge:Topics:Deep Earth:Activities
Suzanne Baldwin, Syracuse University
This activity explores how earth scientists infer what materials are present at the core mantle boundary and what this boundary might look like. It provides students with the opportunity to contribute to the ...

Experiments in Crystal Optics part of Activities
Hans Dieter Zimmermann
The purpose of the experiments below is to impart an intuitive understanding of the interaction between light and crystals and, thus, of optical crystallography. This will help to demystify what is seen in the ...

Experiments on Simple Binary Mineral Systems part of Activities
John Winter, Whitman College
This exercise is devised to simulate a series of experimental runs in which binary mineral mixtures are melted using very high-temperature furnaces in order to determine the characteristics of mineral systems and ...

Mineral Separation and Provenance Lab Exercise part of Activities
Mary Roden-Tice, SUNY College at Plattsburgh
Students will examine mineral separates from sand samples collected from a number of rivers each of which drains a slightly different geologic terrane. Differences in mineralogic composition and mineral abundance ...

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