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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 ...

Florida River Project: Minerals in the field part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Introductory Courses:Activities
Kim Hannula, Fort Lewis College
This is a field trip that is part of a semester-long research project. In this lab, students visit part of their research site to look at rocks and minerals in the study area.

Concept Maps in Mineralogy part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
Mickey Gunter, University of Idaho
Concept map showing the relationship between different minerals and approaches used in mineralogy. Categories include: crystal chemistry, external and internal structure, phase diagrams, physical properties, and ...

Mineral Selfie part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Introductory Courses:Activities
Stefany Sit, University of Illinois at Chicago
Students identify minerals used in their everyday lives by taking a 'selfie' with the product and then sharing their photo with their fellow students on a class blog.

Feldspar Mineral Chemistry Using the FCAEM Remotely Operable Electron Probe Micro-Analyzer. part of Activities
Sven Holbik and Rosemary Hickey-Vargas, Florida International University
This lab uses the remote operation of an Electron Probe Micro-Analysis (EPMA) available through the Florida Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy (FCAEM; https://fcaem.fiu.edu/), at Florida International University, Miami, to explore feldspar mineral chemistry. This lab explores detailed mineral chemistry, data normalization, and plotting compositional ranges on ternary diagrams suitable as an introductory assignment in a Mineralogy, Earth Materials, or Petrology course. This instructor-led interactive demonstration of remote Electron Microprobe use introduces students to microprobe analysis, x-ray analytical techniques, standardization, image analysis, normalization, mineral formulas and composition. The instructor can acquire images (optional) of samples containing feldspar (provided by FCAEM or instructor's samples) then select multiple points for analysis. This activity captivates student's attention and provides a hands-on instrument-led approach to introducing undergraduate students to chemical analysis and vital concepts in mineralogy and petrology.

Mineral Recalculation Using Remote Electron Microprobe Analysis part of Activities
Sven Holbik and Rosemary Hickey-Vargas, Florida International University
This in-class activity uses the remote capabilities of the electron microprobe (EM) system with wavelength dispersive spectrometry (WDS) available through the Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy (FCAEM; fcaem.fiu.edu) at Florida International University in Miami FL, to introduce students to microprobe analysis, determine the major chemical elements in a mineral, use the chemical data to calculate the exact chemical formula of the mineral and to plot this data on a binary phase diagram for interpretive discussions. This instructor led activity is intended as a whole-class demonstration of the EM with WDS analysis of minerals. The remote user will navigate the EM stage to find phases of interest, acquire images of phases, set up multiple points for analysis, and disseminate collected data for students to answer questions given in lab assignment.

Introduction to Mineral Identification part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Activities
Suki Smaglik, Central Wyoming College
The exercise uses an inquiry-based approached to overcome the fear of tackling mineral identification. Few instructions are given and students discover for themselves how to approach identification.

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Mineral Cleavage: a practical experiment part of Process of Science:Examples
Sharon Browning, Baylor University
In this geology activity, students investigate the physical property of mineral cleavage by physically trying to break down a block of halite and describing the results. This lab addresses many misunderstandings non-majors have about the physical properties of minerals and includes a brief write up of their conclusions.

Ideas for Discussing the Crystalllization Demonstration in Class part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lecture Demonstrations:Examples
What is Happening in the Demonstration? The solid salicylate is melted and the resulting liquid then cooled, so that it freezes into a solid. Seeds (small crystals) of salicylate enhance the crystallization ...

Online Investigation of an Island Arc Volcano: Anatahan, Mariana Arc part of MARGINS Data in the Classroom:MARGINS Mini-Lessons
Jeff Ryan
This activity is a Web investigation and research exercise starting with the 2003-present Anatahan volcanic eruptions in the Mariana arc, and concluding with a petrologic examination of published Mariana arc lavas data sets.

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Welcome to Planet Oit! part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Games:Examples
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
This is an online adventure game in which players prospect for minerals on a virtual geologically realistic world. -

Mineral Properties -- Learning through Experience part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Activities
Katryn Wiese, City College of San Francisco
Students are each given a mineral and asked to locate all other students in the room with the same mineral (knowing there are a total of 5 different minerals). Once groups form, they need to decide what characteristics are similar for all their samples and ultimately report out to the whole class on their observations.

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Observational Skills in a Simple Crystal Growing Experiment part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Activities
Richard Gottfried, Frederick Community College
Students grow crystals and identify the crystal system by observing their basic geometric form. Students all research crytallization processes.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Rock/Mineral Scavenger Hunt part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Games:Examples
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
Take students into the field and give each team a list of rocks or mineral types you want found and brought back within the time limit. -