Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > The JMU Mineral Museum - Observing Physical Properties of Minerals

The JMU Mineral Museum - Observing Physical Properties of Minerals

Cindy Kearns
James Madison University
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 14, 2008


Students have the opportunity to enjoy classic examples of minerals they will learn about in lab and reinforce visual observation of some phyisical properties.

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Introductory Physical geology for both major and geneneral education. Can be modified for upper level majors course in mineralogy.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The students should have had a hands on experience with (or at least an in depth lecture) on physical properties in minerals

How the activity is situated in the course

The exercise was developed to use early in the course or at the beginning of a section on earth mateials. It is a stand alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This execise is designed to enhance visual observation skills and reinforce and asses experiences from a physical properties lab. Addtionally, exposure to minerals in the museum introduces and prepares students for the upcoming mineral identification lab.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

the portion of the exercise on cleavage in the carbonates involves critical thinking skills

Other skills goals for this activity

By exposure to the mineral museum, the student can develop an appreciation for the beauty of minerals, something that is not often available with introductory lab specimens

Description of the activity/assignment

Mineral museums provide a resourse for students to explore beautiful examples of minerals. During the exploration process, they can also apply or reinforce visual observation skills they have learned in lab. The James Madison University Mineral Museum (http://csm.jmu.edu/minerals/) provides educational opportunities for both introductory geology and earth science courses as well as advanced major. In this exercise, students have possibly their first opportunity to enjoy the wonderous world of minerals in an exhilerating display. During the exploration process, students are provided a reinforcment of visual observation skills previously experienced in lab and an introduction to mineral names and classifications.

Determining whether students have met the goals

This exercise is both an assesment and review of the skills developed in an exercise/lab on physical properties.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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