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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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The Silicate Structures: Chalkboard Demonstration part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Introductory Courses:Activities
Liane Stevens, Bentley University
This assignment is designed to introduce the silicate structures, and their significance to mineral properties, to undergraduate non-science majors in an introductory physical geology course. Magnetic ...

Calculating Weight Percents and Normalizing Analyses part of Activities
Dexter Perkins
This exercise involves converting chemical analyses to mineral formulas, and mineral formulas to oxide and element weight percents.

Crystallizing Minerals from Aqueous Solutions part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
Students dissolve selected salts and other compounds in water, let the water evaporate, and examine the crystals that grow.

Exploring Crystal Structures with XtalDraw part of Activities
Wendy Panero, Ohio State University-Main Campus
This exercise uses publicly available resources to visualize mineral structures in three dimensions on the computer, including symmetry, the use of polyhedral modeling and linking, and the effects of solid ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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.

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 ...

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.

Olivine Crystal Structure part of Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, students use the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database and a crystallographic visualization program such as Xtaldraw or CrystalMaker to study the temperature-dependent ordering of Mg ...

Crystal Structures as Geobarometers part of Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, designed for undergraduate igneous petrology or advanced mineralogy courses, students download a series of crystal structures from the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database to explore ...

Plagioclase Phase Diagram part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This short exercise involves the binary plagioclase "two-phase loop" phase diagram.

Growing Crystals on a Microscope Stage part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus;
Many compounds crystallize rapidly from evaporating solutions, and many can be crystallized from melts. Because of this, it is possible to do simple crystallization experiments and to watch crystals grow over short ...