InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals

Prajukti (juk) Bhattacharyya (University of Wisconsin, Whitewater)
Joy Branlund (Southwestern Illinois College)
Leah Joseph (Ursinus College)

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014

Summary

This unit provides an introduction to the module. In addition to learning about minerals and mineral resources, students identify minerals that are employed to make commonly used products, thus tying resource use to each students' individual habits and decisions. The patterns of global resource use (with considerations of sustainability) are also addressed in light of population growth and economic development trends.

Learning Goals

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

Pre-Class Work

Readings

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.

PowerPoint versions

Minerals and Mineral Resources. (PowerPoint 5.2MB Sep30 14)
The Rock Cycle. (PowerPoint 1.7MB Aug20 14)

Word/PDF versions

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-Class Work

Activity 1: Minerals and Products (~20 minutes)

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.

Activity 2: Review of Minerals and Rocks (Reading Reinforcement ~10 minutes)

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.

Activity 3: Economic Development and Resource Use (10--15 minutes)

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.

Post-Class Work

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)

Teachers Notes and Answer Key for Unit 1 Post-Class Homework in Word


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in PDF.


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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.


Assessment

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

Student Self-Assessment

References and Resources

More information about Concept Maps

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.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »