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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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Directed-Discovery of Crystal Structures Using Ball and Stick Models part of Activities
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
In this series of exercises, a kind of reductionist approach is used to direct the students attention to specific characteristics of a variety of ball and stick models. Through a series of leading questions, ...

Crystallizing Minerals from Aqueous Solutions part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Students dissolve selected salts and other compounds in water, let the water evaporate, and examine the crystals that grow.

Exploring Crystal Structures with XtalDraw part of Activities
Wendy Panero, Ohio State University-Main Campus
This exercise uses publicly available resources to visualize mineral structures in three dimensions on the computer, including symmetry, the use of polyhedral modeling and linking, and the effects of solid ...

Determination of Chemical Composition, State of Order, Molar Volume, and Density of a Monoclinic Alkali Feldspar Using X-Ray Diffraction part of Activities
Guy L. Hovis
This activity involves using XRD to determine the chemical composition, state of order, molar volume, and density of a monoclinic alkali feldspar.

From 2D to 3D: Escher Drawings - Crystallography, Crystal Chemistry, and Crystal "Defects" part of Activities
Peter Buseck
This set of exercises illustrates plane and space groups as well as crystal chemistry and "defects" in crystals. The problems are designed to present the material as puzzles that are visually attractive ...

An introduction to XRD using the MSA Crystal Structure Database part of Activities
Zeb Page, Oberlin College
An XRD lab/problem set that makes use of the free online MSA crystal structure database rather than proprietary software to identify powder XRD patterns.

Olivine Crystal Structure part of Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, students use the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database and a crystallographic visualization program such as Xtaldraw or CrystalMaker to study the temperature-dependent ordering of Mg ...

Growing Crystals on a Microscope Stage part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus;
Many compounds crystallize rapidly from evaporating solutions, and many can be crystallized from melts. Because of this, it is possible to do simple crystallization experiments and to watch crystals grow over short ...

Exploring phyllosilicate structures with polyhedral models part of Activities
James Rougvie, Beloit College
In this exercise, students build polyhedral models to learn about phyllosilicate structures and how they relate to physical properties. This directed-discovery activity is a very 'hands-on' experience ...

Private Mineral Project - Part 1 part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Students begin to work on semester-long private mineral projects.

Mineral Classification part of Activities
Joseph Smyth, University of Colorado at Boulder
This homework assignment challenges students to determine the chemical classification of minerals based on their chemical formula. Students must also provide the valences of the various cations for oxygen-bearing ...

Concept Maps in Mineralogy part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
Mickey Gunter, University of Idaho
Concept map showing the relationship between different minerals and approaches used in mineralogy. Categories include: crystal chemistry, external and internal structure, phase diagrams, physical properties, and ...

Crystal Structures as Geobarometers part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Cpx Geobarometer
Kent Ratajeski, kratajeski@montana.edu Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 4, 2005 Description This exercise is based on the recent formulation of a geobarometer ...

Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures
David Mogk and Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 25, 2005 Description This contribution is modified from a published exercise "Directed ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Identifying Minerals Using Chemical and Crystallographic Data
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 25, 2005 Description In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and ...