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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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Using Cooperative Learning to Teach Mineralogy (and Other Courses Too!) part of Activities
LeeAnn Srogi, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
This chapter is concerned primarily with how the content of a mineralogy course can be organized so that the students are more active and conscientious learners. This chapter is divided into three sections: Section ...

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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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Heat Capacity of Minerals: A Hands-On Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics part of Activities
David Bailey, Hamilton College
Minerals are inorganic chemical compounds with a wide range of physical and chemical properties. Geologists frequently measure and observe properties such as hardness, specific gravity, color, etc. Unfortunately, ...

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

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Making Solid Solutions with Alkali Halides (and Breaking Them) part of Activities
John Brady, Smith College
In this exercise, the class will grow a variety of crystals of the same mineral, but with different chemical compositions. These crystals will be made from mixtures of halite eNaCI)and sylvite (KCI) that are melted ...

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Building Crystal Structure Ball Models Using Pre-Drilled Templates: Sheet Structures, Tridymite, and Cristobalite part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
Ball models have long been used as teaching tools in Mineralogy to illustrate molecular and crystal structures. At Union College, Mineralogy students construct crystal structure ball models to help them better ...

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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: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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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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Calculating Compositional Variation and Common Substitutions for Igneous and Metamorphic Minerals part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
This problem set uses Excel spreadsheets to calculate mineral formulae from analytical data (typically from the electron microprobe) using a variety of formulations that assume numerous variations of crystal ...

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Modeling Exsolution (and Perthite Formation) as an Example of Complex-System Behavior part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman; Barb Dutrow, Louisiana State University
Students use a physical model, computer simulation, examples from the natural world, visualizations, and overarching thought experiments to explore this phenomenon. Exsolution embodies attributes of a complex ...

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Reagents, Compositions, Weight Loss part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is a short experimental study of several different reagents and what happens to them when they are heated to 110° and 1200° C.

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Synthetic Alkali Halides part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is a complex experimental investigation of the melting of alkali halides. This project takes more than one class and involves using an X-ray diffractometer.

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Mineral Synthesis and X-Ray Diffraction Experiments part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus;
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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Better Living Through Minerals: X-Ray Diffraction of Household Products part of Activities
Barb Dutrow, Louisiana State University
X-ray diffraction is a quick and valuable tool for identifying minerals. Minerals are an integral portion of our everyday life, in addition to composing our planet! They help bring electricity into our homes and ...

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