InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals > Activity 1.2 - Review of Minerals and Rocks
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
showLearn More
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.
Explore the Collection »
How to Use »

New to InTeGrate?

Learn how to incorporate these teaching materials into your class.

  • Find out what's included with each module
  • Learn how it can be adapted to work in your classroom
  • See how your peers at hundreds of colleges and university across the country have used these materials to engage their students

How To Use InTeGrate Materials »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

Activity 1.2 - Review of Minerals and Rocks

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

Focus is on distinguishing materials that are minerals from those that aren't by applying the 5-part definition of a mineral. of a mineral; rocks vs/ minerals; types of rocks (but not rock-forming processes); facts that minerals are used as resources to make various products. Physical science DCI's about properties and crystalline substances are addressed.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Structure and Properties of Matter: Solids may be formed from molecules, or they may be extended structures with repeating subunits (e.g., crystals). MS-PS1.A5:

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:

Earth’s Materials and Systems: All Earth processes are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling within and among the planet’s systems. This energy is derived from the sun and Earth’s hot interior. The energy that flows and matter that cycles produce chemical and physical changes in Earth’s materials and living organisms. MS-ESS2.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

The discussion presented here is meant to augment, not replace, the pre-class reading, as well as to provide an introduction to concept maps.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:
  • Differentiate between rocks and minerals, including rock-forming processes and rock families
  • Draw concept maps to organize material learned.

Context for Use

This review should be done after students have read the background material for Unit 1. This activity is intended for introductory students who have not yet studied minerals and rocks and can be used in its current form in classes of any size.

Description and Teaching Materials

A short class discussion about the reading will help clarify the concepts covered. Students will first discuss minerals and then complete a concept map to summarize the mineral and rock concepts learned in Unit 1.

Part 1. Reviewing the definition of a mineral:

1a) Ask students for the definition of a mineral. List the five criteria on the board.

1b) To practice using this definition, the instructor should ask students if a given substance is or is not a mineral. This can be done by starting a list on the board, titled "Mineral or Not?" If the five characteristics are also displayed, then the instructor can go through them for each substance, to see if that substance does or does not meet the criteria. For example, the instructor could write "plastic" on the list and, after brief discussion, write "No - is not natural" next to the word.

The following substances provide good examples of what minerals are and are not:

  • Plastic is not a mineral because it is not natural.
  • Wood (or bone) is not a mineral because it is not inorganic.
  • Salt is a mineral. When going through the list, students should note that salt is solid, inorganic, and natural. Some will state that it is chemically homogeneous. The instructor can ask, "How do you know?" and then prompt, "What do all salt grains taste like?" Students should know that all salt tastes like salt, which is a clue that all salt shares the same chemical formula (NaCl). Some will state that the mineral is crystalline. The instructor can ask, "How do you know?" and then prompt "What does salt look like?" Some students probably have observed that all salt grains are little cubes. This is because of the crystalline nature of salt; the atoms are arranged in orderly and repeating cubes, and therefore salt breaks into cubes.
  • Sugar all tastes the same and breaks into cubes, but sugar is not a mineral because it is not inorganic.
  • Ice is a mineral. When going through the list, students should note that ice is inorganic and natural. Students will note that ice is solid unless it melts. This is a good place to note that all minerals can melt, and if they melt then they are no longer minerals. Ice is chemically homogeneous (with formula H2O) and is crystalline. To stress this last point, ask students what snowflakes look like. Photomicrographs of snowflakes from http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/ can be used to show students that snowflakes are crystals, perfect and symmetrical, indicative of their crystalline nature.
  • Coal is not a mineral. Students may not know how coal forms but can be told that coal forms from dead plants that cannot decay. Thus, coal is organic.
  • Glass is not a mineral. Students might say that glass is not natural, until they are reminded of natural glasses like obsidian (which forms in volcanoes). Glass is not a mineral because the atoms are not arranged in an ordered and repeating pattern. Glass is not crystalline.

Part 2. Reviewing the definition of a rock, the three rock families, and learning how to work with concept maps:

This Partially Completed Concept Map in PowerPoint (PowerPoint 212kB Sep26 13) or in PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 147kB Feb11 15) should be distributed to students to help students (a) learn how to work with concept maps and (b) organize the concepts addressed so far in the reading and in class.

A Completed Concept Map. (PowerPoint 207kB Sep26 13)

After they complete the concept map, ask students: The concept map includes some things from the reading, but not everything. A good amount of the reading dealt with properties that make minerals useful. Where would "useful properties" fit on this concept map? What were those properties?

Teaching Notes and Tips

Assessment

There is no formal assessment for this activity.

References and Resources

More information about Concept Maps

Photos of snow crystals taken by Dr. Kenneth G. Libbrecht at CalTech: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/.

Teaching Themes

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

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 »