Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals
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This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
- Differentiate between rocks and minerals including rock-forming processes and rock families.
- Cite examples of mineral resources, the products that contain them, and the mineral properties that cause these resources to be used in these products.
- Describe how elemental abundance relates to mineral abundance and hence to resource availability.
- Infer the relationships between sustainability, resource availability, population growth, and economic development.
Description and Teaching Materials
Students are expected to either view the PowerPoint presentation or read the Word/PDF file before class, as they will prepare students for the classroom activities. These materials are also found in Student Materials.
Background Reading for Unit 1 in Word (Microsoft Word 2.9MB Oct1 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 16.3MB Oct1 14)
Unit 1 Minerals and Rocks Glossary of Terms in Word (Microsoft Word 25kB Oct7 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 29kB Oct7 14)
In this activity, students will match commonly used consumer products with the minerals they contain. There are different ways to carry out this activity, some which need mineral and product examples, and some which only require a computer and projector.
As a class, students will review mineral resources, the definitions of minerals and rocks, an overview of the rock cycle, and how to make a concept map.
This short activity is intended to introduce students to the links between resource use and economic development. It can be completed as a directed class discussion or as a small-group or individual activity. This activity, along with the post-class homework, serves as a transition to Unit 2.
This short homework brings together concepts of population growth and global economic development with resource use. Depending on how the instructor orders the module, this short assignment could be combined with the pre-class homework for Unit 2 Activity Option 1.
Unit 1 Post-Class Homework: Resource Use, Population, and Development in Word (Microsoft Word 33kB Oct7 14)and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 84kB Oct7 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- The three activities presented can be done in any order, depending on instructor preference and logistics.
- Time needs to be managed wisely to fit these activities into a single 50-minute class period.
Assessments and Learning Outcomes
The learning outcomes are addressed by the activities as listed below (see activity sheets for more details):
- Differentiate between rocks and minerals, including rock-forming processes and rock families. Pre-Class Reading, Review of Minerals and Rocks. This can also be reinforced in the Minerals and Products Activity, if students have both minerals and rocks in their sample boxes. The rock-forming processes are briefly addressed by the sample concept map in the Review of Minerals and Rocks, and will be revisited in Units 4 and 5.
- Cite examples of mineral resources, the products that contain them, and the mineral properties that cause these resources to be used in these products. Pre-class reading, Minerals and Products Activity.
- Describe how elemental abundance relates to mineral abundance and hence resource availability. Pre-Class Reading.
- Infer the relationships between sustainability, resource availability, population growth, and economic development. Economic Development and Resource Use Activity, Post-Class Work.
Concept maps will be used as a study and assessment tool throughout this module. More Information About Concept Maps
Possible Exam Questions
- Unit 1 Self-Assessment Questions in Word (Microsoft Word 53kB Oct8 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 83kB Oct7 14) Most of these are also provided in the online reading in Student Materials.
- Unit 1 Self-Assessment Questions with Answer Key in Word (Microsoft Word 54kB Oct7 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 98kB Oct7 14)
References and Resources
Minerals Education Coalition has information on minerals in products, as well as mineral usage (you can find the "Minerals Baby" here).
GSA's Position Statement: Critical Mineral Resources helps provide an overview about what is meant by a "critical mineral resource" and how geologists can work to secure our needed mineral resources.
USGS Minerals Yearbook allows you to look up different mineral resources and provides usage statistics (production, import, export), as well as information on mining and in what product(s) the resource is used.
Mineral Resource of the Month, published in AGI's Earth Magazine, gives briefer (and more reader-friendly) versions of the information from the Minerals Yearbook.
Keane, Christopher, and Sever, Megan. 2013. A Consumer's Guide to Minerals (ebook only). Published by AGI. This book contains information on individual mineral resources, similar to what is published monthly in the Mineral Resource of the Month.
Books illustrating the complexity and relevance of mineral resource issues
Ali, Saleem. 2009. Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future. Published by Yale University Press. 289 pages.
Ettlinger, Steve. 2008. Twinkie, Deconstructed. Published by Plume (Penguin Group). An entertaining read about the ingredients in a Twinkie (their origin, processing details, and purposes). 282 pages.
Commercial suppliers for mineral samples, sample boxes, and similar products
Wards Science has a good collection of mineral and rock samples, sample boxes, and mineral testing kits for classroom use.
Home Science Tools is an alternate supplier for mineral kits.
There are other suppliers of rocks and minerals that can be found via an online search.