Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mystery Minerals!

The last time our Geology co-op met, we learned all about minerals and how to identify them. (You can find that post at Our most recent lesson was an extension of that with our very first lab, a minerals lab that I called "Mystery Minerals."  After we went over our homework from the last lesson, each student was given two mystery minerals and two test sheets that I made up (below), one for each mineral.  (You can click on the worksheet image to see it larger.)  They were then challenged to identify their minerals after testing them at six different stations in the lab.
Here is Maggie at the "Color counts!" lab ("Mystery Minerals Station #1").  At this station, I challenged the children to write what colors their minerals were and to draw them using the colored pencils at the station.
Each station was labeled, with instructions provided and the materials needed to complete the test at that station.  Here at Station #4, I provided streak plates and paper towels for them to find the color streaks of their minerals.
At the "How Hard?" Station (#2), they tested their minerals hardness, using their fingernails, a copper penny, and an iron nail.  I provided a printout of the Moh's Scale of Hardness at this station, too.
At Station #5, the children determined if their minerals were opaque, translucent, or transparent.
Maggie determined one of her samples (fluorite) was translucent.
Station #3 ("It's magnetic!") had them determine whether or not their minerals were magnetic.
I think the only station I didn't mention yet was Station #6, "Luster Lab," where they determined whether their minerals were shiny (metallic), dull (non-metallic), or vitreous (like glass).

After everyone had been through the rotation and experimented at each station, I had them sit back at the main table and compare their minerals' properties to the properties of the eight minerals hanging on the windows.
They then had to guess which mineral samples they had.  Once everyone had guessed, I revealed the identity of their mystery minerals.  Not one of them had guessed wrong!
With every co-op class, we assign homework to help the children review later what they learned in class.  After this lab, I assigned two homework assignments.  The first was this sheet that I created, a mock newspaper article for a fake publication, which I challenged them to complete about a new mineral they could create in their minds.  (You can click on the image to see it larger.  Boxes have been placed where our last name is written for protection of our identity.)
Here is Maggie's.  She named her mineral "Redite"and said it could be used to make CDs.
The second assignment I gave them involved cracking geodes!  Fun!  I bought this box of ten at Oriental Trading Company last year and couldn't wait for the teaching opportunity to get into them.
Next, I made this sheet (click on it to see it larger) for them to fill out.  Each child was given three geodes, which they had to label, crack, and document.  I asked for a sentence and picture on each geode.
Here is Maggie's first geode, labeled and ready to crack!
Cracking geodes with Daddy!
And here is Maggie's completed page.
Our next lesson is on igneous rocks!  Stay tuned!

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