Box of Rocks

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Earth Science: Rocks and Minerals
Grade Range: Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Format: Hands-on


This show-and-tell type demonstration gives students a chance to see a wide variety of rocks and minerals. Some of the samples we have are common, some are rare, and some require gloves to be worn before being handled.

Contents

Materials

  • The Box of Rocks (17 Samples)
  • The Box of Minerals (21 Samples)
  • List of Rocks and Minerals
  • Explanation cards for the Rocks and Minerals
  • Optional: Box of Additional Mineral Samples

Safety Precautions

Please read the General Safety section of the Demonstration Safety page before performing this demonstration.

  • The following minerals should only be handled by the presenter or by a student while wearing gloves: Biotite, Muscovite, Fluorite.
  • The following minerals should never be handled by a student, and only by a presenter while wearing gloves: Galena, Tremolite, Picrolite.

This demonstration requires: Rubber or Latex Gloves


Demonstration

  1. Select a variety of rocks and minerals to set out. Choose 1-2 of each of the rock types, and 5-10 of the minerals.
  2. Allow students to come up and inspect the samples. This is a demonstration where you allow students to inspect the different rocks and minerals at their own pace.
    • Optional: Give students an option to answer a Rocks and Minerals question. If they get your question correct, then they can pick one of the mineral sample handouts!
    • Optional: Set out the rocks with their labels set aside. When students walk up, have them try to match the labels to the appropriate rocks. As long as they try, they can then pick one of the mineral sample handouts!
    • Optional: Set out the minerals with their labels set aside. When students walk up, have them try to match the labels to the appropriate minerals. As long as they try, they can then pick one of the mineral sample handouts!
  3. When packing up, be sure to account for all the rocks and minerals using the included list.


Why This Works

Geology is the study of rocks and the solid earth. Geologists have identified three types of rocks: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. Sedimentary is when you have a rock which is the result of small bits and pieces of rock fusing together. Igneous is when you cool molten rock and it solidifies. Metamorphic is when you take an existing rock and you put high pressure and temperature on it. The different types of rocks can all change from one form to another, meaning an igneous rock could become metamorphic, which could then become sedimentary, which could become igneous again!

Mineralogy is the study of the chemical composition, or makeup, of different minerals and finding ways to use them. Minerals are all very different, and have a variety of purposes. Some are decorative, like Olivine for jewelry, Hematite for pottery and Quartz for decoration. Some are useful, like Halite as table salt, Talc as talcum powder and Graphite as pencil lead. Others are used for extracting elements, like Galena for lead, Magnetite for iron and Pyrite for sulfur. Specific information on the minerals is included with them.

Additional Information

  • This is a show-and-tell type of demonstration, so be prepared to talk about the various rocks and minerals!
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