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Teaching Mineralogy
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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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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.

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 ...

Exploring the Uniaxial Indicatrix part of Activities
Sarah Penniston-Dorland, University of Maryland-College Park
This activity gives the students a 3-dimensional perspective on the uniaxial indicatrix, its various parts, and the relationship between different orientations of the indicatrix and the corresponding optical ...

Research Experiences in a Mineralogy Class part of Cutting Edge:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Dave Mogk, Montana State University Summary One of the goals of my Mineralogy class is to demonstrate how the principles and content covered in class can be applied to questions of geologic interest or that have ...

A Term Research Project Focused on Electron Microprobe Studies of Unknowns in a Junior-Level Mineralogy/Petrology Course part of Cutting Edge:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Jeff Ryan, University of South Florida
Jeff Ryan, University of South Florida Summary Two students using the FCAEM Electron microprobe via remote operation in Jeff Ryan's GLY 3311C course. DetailsAs the core activity of petrology portion of a ...

The Use of Natural Crystals in the Study of Crystallography part of Activities
Roger Steinberg, Del Mar College
I use single, euhedral, natural crystals of minerals extensively when teaching basic concepts of crystallogtaphy. In my Mineralogy course, I use single, well-formed crystals in all aspects of basic crystallography ...

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 ...

From 2D to 3D: II. TEM and AFM Images part of Activities
Peter Buseck
High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) provides 2-D projections of mineral structures at almost the atomic scale, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) provides 3-D information about the surfaces of ...

Plane Groups part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Studying plane groups is a good way to introduce crystal systems, point groups, lattices, symmetry operators, etc. All is in 2-D, but it is easy to tell students that the principles are the same in 3-D. I provide, ...

X-Rays part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
This homework assignment tests students' understanding of x-rays and x-ray diffraction using wavelength data and physics equations.

Phase Diagrams part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
Students are given a simplified temperature-composition phase diagram for the system enstatite (Mg2Si2O6) - diopside (CaMgSi2O6), and asked to interpret it by answering a series of questions.

Using Excel to Calculate Mineral Chemical Analyses part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
This problem set guides students through making a spreadsheet to calculate mineral chemical analyses from weight percent to atoms per given number of oxygen atoms. This skill will be useful for the major ...

Space Group Symmetry part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
This assignment tasks students with determining symmetry axes and identifying Hermann-Mauguin symbols for space groups based on a symmetry diagram.

Mineral Stoichiometry part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
Students are given mineral chemical analyses, from which students must determine cation formulae and mole ratios.

Coupled Substitutions part of Activities
, University of Colorado at Boulder
Students calculate the composition of minerals in weight percent given relative proportions of given end members. Students must also calculate mole percentages for feldspars based on their mineral analyses.