Teaching Mineralogy with Crystal Structure Databases and Visualization Software
Integrating Research and Education > Crystallography > Example Exercises and Activities

Example Exercises and Activities

  1. Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures
    David Mogk and Kent Ratajeski, Montana State University

    In this exercise, students download crystal structures for viewing and manipulation with visualization software. By answering a series of leading questions, the students learn about the spatial and chemical relationships in a variety of crystalline solids (including mineral and non-mineral species) and piece together for themselves "Pauling's Rules" which describe the fundamental principles of crystal structures.

  2. Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data
    Kent Ratajeski, Montana State University

    In this review exercise, students download crystal structures of unknown minerals for viewing with a visualization program such as XtalDraw or CrystalMaker, and through a series of leading questions, determine the identity of each unknown.

  3. Order/Disorder Within Crystal Structures as a Function of Temperature
    Kent Ratajeski, Montana State University

    In this exercise, students download crystal structures of experimentally-synthesized olivines determined over a range of temperatures to investigate the mineral's unique order/disorder properties.

  4. Crystal Structures as Geobarometers
    Kent Ratajeski, Montana State University

    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 the crystal-chemical basis that allows the clinopyroxene crystal structure to be used as a geobarometer.

  5. An Examination of the Phase Transformation in Clinopyroxene
    Bob Downs, University of Arizona

    In this exercise, students examine the structures of 3 different clinopyroxene crystals as a function of cell volume in order to understand the mechanism behind their phase changes. As part of the exercise, instructions are given about how to make animations that follow the volume changes.


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