InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals > Activity 1.1 - Minerals and Products
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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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Activity 1.1 - Minerals and Products

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

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Introductory activity: Relationship to NGSS somewhat tangential for this introductory activity in which students may or may not use scientific reasoning to match mineral resources to products made from the minerals. [Only 1st sentence of DCI addressed in this activity; SEP P7 (engage in argument from evidence) could be incorporated if students are asked to explain their matches.

Cross Cutting Concepts

Structure and Function: Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. MS-C6.1:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Structure and Properties of Matter: Each pure substance has characteristic physical and chemical properties (for any bulk quantity under given conditions) that can be used to identify it. MS-PS1.A2:

Natural Resources: Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes. MS-ESS3.A1:

  1. 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.

  2. 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: Oct 16, 2014

Summary

In the minerals and products activity, students match physical products with actual mineral samples, using observable properties as well as the minerals' chemical formulas and some products' ingredient lists.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:

  • 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 resource availability.

Context for Use

This activity is a fun way to introduce students to minerals and mineral resources and can even be done before any discussion of minerals and rocks.

Description and Teaching Materials

This activity provides an introduction to the Human's Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources module by requiring students to link everyday products with the minerals that are used to create them. Sets of minerals are compared with sets of products made from them, and the students must match the two up using what they know or can tell about the properties of both.

Different options for how to run this activity are provided below.

Once students complete their lists, instructors should go through the answers one by one, asking if anyone can guess the correct answer and why they made that particular pairing. The instructor can give the correct pairing (if different) and review how physical or chemical properties of that mineral made it useful in its associated product.

Option 1: Pre-Made Mineral Kits

Assemble kits (e.g. use sample boxes sold by Wards or another company or old egg cartons) that contain 10 minerals (or the desired number) that are used in products. Collect samples of the products as well (or pictures of them if necessary).

Make enough mineral kits so that every 2--3 people will have one kit. The mineral names and formulas should be provided for the minerals (see List of minerals and products to use in class (Acrobat (PDF) 41kB Feb26 16) linked above). It should be clear which name and formula matches which mineral in the kit. The formulas can be attached to the kit lids, printed and handed out separately, or projected.

Students can pick up a mineral kit, or a TA, instructor, or volunteer student can pass mineral kits down the rows once students are seated.

Students should number a piece of paper. Numbered products can then be either placed around the room (in small classes, so that groups can walk around the room with their mineral kits to view the products), or handed around (in large classes, multiple sets of products may be needed). Students write the product name next to the number and then look at the samples in the mineral kit to find the mineral that's in that particular product. They then write that mineral name next to the product on their piece of paper. Alternatively, photos of the products (and their ingredient labels) can be projected on the screen. The PowerPoint linked above contains some photos that can be used.

Tell students that many pairs can be matched based on the mineral properties, but for other pairs, they may need to read the ingredients.

Option 2: One Set of Minerals (small classes only; will take longer than Option 1)

On index cards, write each mineral's name and chemical formula large enough so that they can easily be read from two feet away. Place the minerals on or near the index cards and group all the minerals in one area on tables or desks.

Attach product names to actual products. It helps to number these, so that student can record answers all in the same order (this helps with discussion). Place the products together in a different area on tables or desks. Ideally, tables and desks are arranged so that students can easily move around them, but are close enough so that students can quickly move between them.

Ask students to take out a sheet of paper, number from 1 to 10 (or to however many products you are using). They should write the product name next to the number, then find the mineral that is in the product and write that next to the product name.

Tell students that many pairs can be matched based on the mineral properties, but for other pairs, they may need to read the ingredients.

This will be a bit chaotic, but students will eventually have a completed list.

Option 3: Photos

This is the least desirable way to do this activity, because many mineral and product properties cannot be seen in a photo.

Photos of minerals and products are shown (including ingredient lists, if needed), and students attempt to match them. For example, this can be done so that three minerals and three products are shown, and students should match them up. Or maybe one product and five minerals. Ideally, there should not be more than six photos on one PowerPoint slide.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Ideally, students use actual mineral samples in this activity. There are many important mineral properties that are not distinguishable in a photograph.
  • Especially if time is restricted, it is a good idea to tell the students how many minutes they have to complete this activity. Otherwise some of the students will spend 10 minutes agonizing over a single mineral--product pairing.

Assessment

This activity should not be graded. Students will have matched products and minerals, but may not have the right answers in this introductory activity. However, they will likely get a sense of the connectivity between minerals (and rocks) and everyday products.

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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 »