Teach the Earth > Mineralogy > Teaching Activities > Properties of Minerals and Intro to Polarizing Microscopes

Properties of Minerals and Intro to Polarizing Microscopes

Dexter Perkins
University of North Dakota
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Aug 7, 2006


This exercise continues the study of the physical properties of minerals and introduces petrographic microscopes.

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This exercise is designed for a mid/upper-level undergraduate geology course on the principles of mineralogy.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have knowledge of basic chemistry and of minerals equivalent to what they would learn in an introductory geology class and be able to identify minerals based on their physical properties.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is the 5th of 36 mineralogy exercises and is used towards the beginning of the course after learning how to identify minerals based on their physical properties.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Become more familiar with mineral properties.
  • Become familiar with the basic components of a petrographic microscope and the most important mineral optical properties.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Gain confidence in using technical equipment such as petrographic microscopes.

Description of the activity/assignment

This three-part exercise continues the study of minerals' physical properties and introduces petrographic microscopes. In part one, students identify minerals using a given list of minerals. In part two, students their text and newly aquired mineral identification skills to identify unknown minerals. In part three, students are introduced to the petrographic microscope and answer several related questions.

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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