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Mineral Properties

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This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Rachel Beane, Bowdoin College
Course: Mineralogy
8 students
The most effective way to develop geoscience skills in your students is to make opportunities for them to practice those skills.

The Activity

Students, in pairs, examine five boxes of minerals. Each box illustrates a mineral property. After this part of the activity, we discuss other mineral properties and students introduce themselves. Then, students revisit the boxes; this time they quiz each other on the mineral property (e.g. resinous luster, 90 degree cleavage...) and try to name the mineral.

I think this is effective because

  1. it gets students used to the idea of small group activities that will occur in nearly every class
  2. it sets the expectation of a "student centered" class where the students are responsible for the material and I am more of a reference and facilitator
  3. it shows them examples of the mineral properties that are introduced in their first reading
  4. it starts them on the process of learning to identify minerals
  5. it sets the stage for the next day's laboratory exercise and
  6. it introduces them to at least two other people in the class

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