Teach the Earth > Mineralogy > Teaching Activities > First Look at Crystal Shapes

First Look at Crystal Shapes

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 is a short and simple exercise requiring students to examine and compare different crystal shapes.

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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.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is the 9th of 36 mineralogy exercises and is used towards the beginning of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Think about ways to describe and classify crystal shapes.
  • Contemplate the significance of crystal shape.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a short and simple exercise requiring students to examine and compare different crystal shapes. Cardboard models and wooden blocks are used as ideal representations of real crystals. Students examine the representations and determine what shape properties they have in common. They then discuss what it means if crystals of different minerals share some shape properties.

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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