Using SHAPE to Make Crystal Drawings

Dexter Perkins
University of North Dakota
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In this exercise, students use SHAPE, a computer graphics program, to make crystal drawings.

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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 24th of 36 mineralogy exercises and is used towards the end of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Be able to identify symmetry and understand its significance.
  • Become familiar with some of the fundamental forms displayed by minerals.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Apply abstract principles and use abstract properties in meaningful ways.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

In this exercise, students use SHAPE, a computer graphics program, to draw the external morphology (faces) of crystals. SHAPE will draw any single crystal and most twins and epitaxial intergrowths. Students make several crystal drawings by entering the crystal axis lengths and angles, the symbol for the crystal class, and one face of each form. The crystal can be rotated and scaled. Students print out their drawings and label every face with the correct Miller Indices.

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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