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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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Mineral Commodities part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This exercise introduces students to mineral commodities.

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 ...

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.