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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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Physical Properties of Minerals and Determinative Techniques part of Activities
Ken Bladh
This activity uses cooperative learning to identify minerals in hand sample based on physical properties. The "Jigsaw" pedagogy upon which this lab is based provides the environment for four succeeding ...

First Look at Crystal Shapes part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is a short and simple exercise requiring students to examine and compare different crystal shapes.

Laboratory Exercises and Demonstrations with the Spindle Stage part of Activities
Mickey Gunter, University of Idaho
The goal of this lab session is to introduce you to the spindle stage and its possible uses in an undergraduate mineralogy lab. A spindle stage is a one-axis rotation device that mounts on a polarizing microscope ...

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.

Phase Diagrams part of Activities
Joseph Smyth, 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.

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, ...

Space Group Symmetry part of Activities
Joseph Smyth, 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
Joseph Smyth, 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
Joseph Smyth, 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.

Mineral Densities part of Activities
Joseph Smyth, University of Colorado at Boulder
This homework assignment is designed to help students learn about mineral densities and cell edge lengths by having them calculate each.