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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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Synthetic Alkali Halides part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is a complex experimental investigation of the melting of alkali halides. This project takes more than one class and involves using an X-ray diffractometer.

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Exercises to teach scientific reading comprehension and mineralogic concepts part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher, Union College (Lincoln, NE)
With a set of tasks and questions as a guide, students read through an article doing the tasks and answering questions as they go. The object is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the science in the paper.

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A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 mineral hand samples by their distinguishing characteristics.

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Exercises in the Geochemical Kinetics of Mineral-Water Reactions part of Activities
Michael A. Velbel
This module consists of a laboratory exercise and related homework problems on geochemical kinetics of mineral-solution reactions for undergraduate mineralogy. Students measure the grain sizes of equant halite ...

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Using Cooperative Learning to Teach Mineralogy (and Other Courses Too!) part of Activities
LeeAnn Srogi, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
This chapter is concerned primarily with how the content of a mineralogy course can be organized so that the students are more active and conscientious learners. This chapter is divided into three sections: Section ...

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Mineral Synthesis and X-Ray Diffraction Experiments part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus;
This 6-week laboratory activity has students working in groups of two or more to synthesize a mineral and then analyze their mineral using XRD.

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A Fun and Effective Exercise for Understanding Lattices and Space Groups part of Activities
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This activity uses figures from Francois Brisse as Esher drawings to teach students about 2-dimensional symmetry, especially involving translation.

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Heat Capacity of Minerals: A Hands-On Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics part of Activities
David Bailey, Hamilton College
Minerals are inorganic chemical compounds with a wide range of physical and chemical properties. Geologists frequently measure and observe properties such as hardness, specific gravity, color, etc. Unfortunately, ...

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A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 mineral hand samples by their distinguishing characteristics.

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Making Solid Solutions with Alkali Halides (and Breaking Them) part of Activities
John Brady, Smith College
In this exercise, the class will grow a variety of crystals of the same mineral, but with different chemical compositions. These crystals will be made from mixtures of halite eNaCI)and sylvite (KCI) that are melted ...

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Building Crystal Structure Ball Models Using Pre-Drilled Templates: Sheet Structures, Tridymite, and Cristobalite part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
Ball models have long been used as teaching tools in Mineralogy to illustrate molecular and crystal structures. At Union College, Mineralogy students construct crystal structure ball models to help them better ...

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Better Living Through Minerals: X-Ray Diffraction of Household Products part of Activities
Barb Dutrow, Louisiana State University
X-ray diffraction is a quick and valuable tool for identifying minerals. Minerals are an integral portion of our everyday life, in addition to composing our planet! They help bring electricity into our homes and ...

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Crystal Growth - Fast and Slow part of Activities
Peter J. Heaney
This lab is divided into two exercises that may be completed within a single three-hour session. The first exercise requires the mixture of aqueous solutions that will precipitate large euhedral crystals over the ...

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Short Readings from the American Mineralogist: Sneaky Tools for Teaching Scientific Reading Comprehension and Mineralogical Concepts part of Activities
Kurt Hollocher
This activity uses short, well-written articles to enhance teaching for a mineralogy course. Articles are taken from the American Mineralogist journal.

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Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures part of Activities
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman; Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
This online exercise uses a "discovery-based" approach and the latest online crystallographic information and visualization software to teach the spatial relationships and crystal-chemical rules that ...

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