Teach the Earth > Mineralogy > Teaching Activities > Examination of Igneous Silicates

Examination of the Quartz, Feldspathoids, Feldspar, Zeolite Group and other Framework Silicates

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

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
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This page first made public: Aug 7, 2006


Students study hand samples of light-colored igneous minerals and related mineral species. They look at some of the same minerals, and others, in thin section.

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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 11th of 36 mineralogy exercises and is used towards the beginning of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Learn to identify important light-colored minerals.
  • Learn to identify the most important minerals in thin section.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Begin to think about why minerals of the same chemical group have similar properties.

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Become more familiar and comfortable using a microscope.

Description of the activity/assignment

In this three-part exercise, students study hand samples and thin sections of light-colored igneous minerals and related mineral species.

  • Part one - Box of Rocks: Students examine a tray of minerals and record their physical properties, composition, and habit. They note chemical and physical similarities and differences and why there are several varieties of minerals in each group.
  • Part two - Definitions: Define a list of terms relevent to the lab.
  • Part three - Minerals in Thin Section: Observe minerals in thin section and answer questions about them.

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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