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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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Short Readings from the American Mineralogist: Sneaky Tools for Teaching Scientific Reading Comprehension and Mineralogical Concepts part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
This activity uses short, well-written articles to enhance teaching for a mineralogy course. Articles are taken from the American Mineralogist journal.

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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: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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Extending Mineralogy by Electron Microprobe Analysis part of Cutting Edge: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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Guided Discovery and Scoring Rubric for Petrographic Analysis of a Thin Section part of Cutting Edge:Metacognition:Activities
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
A guided discovery approach is used to "unpack" the methods and observations used by "master" petrographers in the petrographic analysis of a thin section. A series of spread sheets are used to ...

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Determining Mantle Temperature and Composition from Discontinuities part of Cutting Edge:Deep Earth:Activities
Anna Courtier, James Madison University
This pair of activities uses observations of mantle discontinuity structure to examine mantle heterogeneity and differences in the depth extent of melt sources for ridges and "hotspots." The first ...

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Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data part of Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and entered into XtalDraw or CrystalMaker visualization software program. Step-by-step tutorials are provided with ...

Introduction to Crystal Structure: Bond Strength part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is an exercise to get students thinking about coordination number and bond strength It is really an application of Pauling's Rules, mostly rule #2

Mineral Properties Sheets part of Activities
Dave Hirsch, Western Washington University;
This activity consists of a set of 69 mineral sheets to be used as part of a term-length set of labs. Each sheet has spaces to write physical and optical properties for each mineral, and a crystal form diagram ...

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 ...

Properties of Minerals part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Students examine a number of key mineral properties and how they are displayed by different minerals.

Properties of Minerals and Intro to Polarizing Microscopes part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This exercise continues the study of the physical properties of minerals and introduces petrographic microscopes.

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.

Mafic Mineral Properties and Thin Sections part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Students look at mafic igneous minerals, learning to distinguish and identify them in hand specimen. They also look at a few of the minerals in thin section.

A Last Look at Igneous Minerals in Thin Section part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
A final lab exercise that uses the optical mineralogy skills learned in the previous labs, and begins the transition to petrographic analysis of thin sections.

Sedimentary and Related Minerals part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This exercise is an introduction to sedimentary minerals and rocks.