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Rock/Mineral Scavenger Hunt

Rebecca Teed (SERC)
Conglomerate chunk
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


After some lab work teaching students to identify rocks and minerals from specimens, divide them into teams, and take them to a field site where you know what they are likely to find. Give them a time limit and list of rocks and/or minerals to find, ideally one they cannot complete within the time limit if you want competition between teams. Remind the students to use teamwork: have some students searching for items, and others using books to confirm identifications. Keep an eye on the students and discourage any unsafe behavior or scavenging off of other teams (threaten to dock points if need be).

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Learning Goals

This exercise motivates students to work together to find and identify rocks and minerals (other other kinds of objects if appropriate). It's especially useful if you want your students to hunt for the objects they should be able to identify, rather than simply being shown them.

Context for Use

The students should have a good background in rock/mineral ID before the game.

Teaching Materials

Make sure that the students are well-equipped before they go out into the field. Wet-weather gear is a good precaution. Rock hammers, hand lenses, and field guides are essential. Depending on the nature of the local geology, other identification equipment (such as acid bottles, scratch plates) may be useful.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The most likely cheat will be for students to carry pre-identified specimens into the field and try to turn them in for points. Also discourage students from following other teams around to try and scavenge their finds.

This game would probably work even better for plant identification than for rock-hunting.


Set a minimum number of finds (perhaps including certain required rocks) for full credit. Most teams should be motivated to exceed that total.

References and Resources

Geology Explorer: Planet Oit Information ( This site may be offline. ) is a virtual prospecting game that will help students prepare for the Rock/Mineral Scavenger Hunt. If they do both, tell them to think of this game as live-action Oit.