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Rock/Mineral Scavenger Hunt

Rebecca Teed (SERC)
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  1. This resource received an Accept or Accept with minor revisions rating from a Panel Peer Review process

    These materials were reviewed using face-to-face NSF-style review panel of geoscience and geoscience education experts to review groups of resources addressing a single theme. Panelists wrote reviews that addressed the criteria:

    1. scientific accuracy and currency
    2. usability and
    3. pedagogical effectiveness
    Reviewers rated the resources:
    1. Accept
    2. Accept with minor revisions
    3. Accept with major revisions, or
    4. Reject.
    They also singled out those resources they considered particularly exemplary, which are given a gold star rating.

    Following the panel meetings, the conveners wrote summaries of the panel discussion for each resource; these were transmitted to the creator, along with anonymous versions of the reviews. Relatively few resources were accepted as is. In most cases, the majority of the resources were either designated as 1) Reject or 2) Accept with major revisions. Resources were most often rejected for their lack of completeness to be used in a classroom or they contained scientific inaccuracies.

  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: Sep 13, 2006

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).

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.


Geoscience:Geology:Mineralogy:Physical Properties

Resource Type

Activities, Field Activity:Field laboratories

Special Interest

Field-Based Teaching and Learning

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use, Meets Peer Review Standard:Anonymous Peer Review

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Earth Materials:Rocks, Minerals


Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Minerals, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Mineralogy, Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field