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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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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 ...

Phase Diagrams in Vivo part of Activities
Erich U. Peterson
This activity uses three experiments (videos of experiments may be viewed online) for students to construct a phase diagram. The purpose of this laboratory as designed is to gain familiarity with simple phase ...

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.

Crystal Measurement and Axial Ratio Laboratory part of Activities
George R. McCormick
This exercise is designed to help students understand relationships among external morphology of crystals (their shape and faces), internal structure (unit cell shape, edge measurements, and volume), ...

Asbestos: Mineralogy, Health Hazards, and Public Policy part of Activities
Helen Lang, West Virginia University
In this laboratory exercise students will have an opportunity to examine the crystal structures, optical properties and health hazards of the common asbestos minerals. The laboratory will reinforce optical ...

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.

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 ...

Wondering, Wandering, and Winnowing: the WWW and Mineralogy part of Activities
Philip Brown, UW-Madison
The purpose of this laboratory exercise is to introduce the student to Earth Science resources on the World Wide Web (WWW) and in particular provide access to material which can be useful throughout a typical ...

Phase Fun With Feldspars: Simple Experiments to Change Chemical Composition, State of Order, and Crystal System part of Activities
Guy L. Hovis
Students will use X-ray diffraction to determine the composition of an "unknown" feldspar and then perform experiments to change the phase and composition of the feldspar.

Exercises With Mineral Names, Literature and History part of Activities
Francis Dudas
This activity is a series of exercises I assign outside of class time, with the purpose of getting students to explore the literature resources that are available for mineralogy. The inspiration for the exercises ...

Introduction to the SEM/EDS or "Every Compositon Tells a Story" part of Activities
John T Cheney and Peter D. Crowley
This lab is designed as an introduction to the investigation of minerals with the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and the X-ray analyzer (Energy Dispersive Spectrometer - EDS). We will explore the relationships ...

Crystal Growth - Fast and Slow part of Activities
Peter J. Heaney
This lab is divided into two exercises that may be completed within a single three-hour session. The first exercise requires the mixture of aqueous solutions that will precipitate large euhedral crystals over the ...

The Metrical Mastrix in Teaching Mineralogy part of Activities
G. V. Gibbs
The calculation of the d-spacings, the angles between planes and zones, the bond lengths and angles and other important geometric relationships for a mineral can be a tedious task for the student and the ...

Color in Minerals part of Activities
Darby Dyar
Why do minerals have color? When is that color diagnostic, and when is it likely to fool you? Why is color important, and what can it tell us about the chemistry of minerals? This exercise will try to answer some ...

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 ...