Mineral Testing 101

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I am a mineral nerd. My students, of course, love this. I think kids love anything we can get excited about. It gets them excited.

Kids need to do stuff. Not just read about stuff, write about stuff, or hear about stuff… but DO SOMETHING.

Here is how I set up my mineral identification lab:

  1. Introduce the different mineral tests using this PowerPoint.
  2. Introduce Mohs Hardness Scale using this puzzle. After we finish the puzzle and do the follow up questions, I pull out samples of talc, gypsum, calcite, corundum, and quartz and do a demo where I figure out which is harder/softer, and physically line them up in order on the desk. The kids totally get it after that one.
  3. Hand out these mineral identification sheets.
  4. I line up my minerals, 1-20 on my front counter. All tables get: 1 iron nail, 1 glass plate, 1 copper penny, 1 white unglazed porcelain plate, 1 black unglazed porcelain plate. Students take 1 mineral at a time and move at their own pace.
  5. Students must fill in all info on their identification sheets. Then they use their tables to make their ‘best guess’ and ‘second guess’ for each mineral.
  6. For the first 5 minerals, I will tell them if they got it correct or not, but after that, they’re on their own! They get 2 class periods to complete the lab.
  7. Each mineral is worth 3 points. They get 4 points if they get it on their ‘best guess,’ 3 points for getting it on their second guess, and 2/3 points if they don’t guess correctly, but put appropriate information in their chart. This works well because students are motivated to get them correct and really use the information. I give them enough ‘easy’ minerals that they almost all get a 100%, or close to it.

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Click below to check out my entire mineral bundle, or my 50 for 50, which has 50 original labs and activities for the middle school earth science classroom, for $50. All of my identification labs can be found in the 50 for 50.



Mineral Bundle 50 for 50

Happy mineral identifying!!


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