Archive for the ‘Rocks’ Category

Pre-Class Prep Materials for the Crystals Class

NOTE: We will be cracking open geodes in class so please wear long pants, closed toed shoes, and bring eye protection if you have it. We’ll also have some eye protection to borrow. If you have geodes that you would like to share you’re welcome to bring them to class, but please put your name on them using masking tape.



  • Crystallography
  • Crystal
  • Crystallization
  • Atom
  • Crystal systems
  • Geode

 For All Ages:

http://www.ccmr.cornell.edu/education/ask/?quid=742 this is a Question and Answer page, from Cornell, all about how crystals from. It’s all text so you may need to read this to younger students.

http://skywalker.cochise.edu/wellerr/students/crystals/project.htm this is a good page all about the different shapes of crystals. We’ll be making these shapes in class (for 8-12’s)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laMZAJ2L_1Y Here is a 10 min. video from Discovery Channel all about the giant crystals found in the Naica Crystal Cave in Mexico. It will amaze you!

http://homechemistry.blogspot.com/2010/03/salt-crystal-trees.html this is a great laboratory protocol for growing salt crystal trees at home. It’s quite easy and done with household items.

For Parents:

http://www.hometrainingtools.com/captivating-crystals-newsletter/a/1564/ this page had a neat background on crystals (at the bottom) and at the top it has two different recipes for growing crystals at home, and comparing crystal growth between borax and sugar.

Who is the Infinite Spider?

Some of you may have noticed that I am posting with the name “The Infinite Spider.” This is actually my personal blog user name, through which I am running about four other blogs for Home School, Volunteers, Estuary Chesapeake, and my own blog.

You are welcome to check out my blog or follow the postings at http://theinfinitespider.wordpress.com/.  The blog is for  those who love nature and those teaching science and nature classes. IF YOU NEED A GOOD LIST OF PLACES TO BUY SCIENCE RELATED CHRISTMAS GIFTS OR CLASSROOM SUPPLIES check out the Nature Gifts and Teaching Supplies tab.

I Need Pictures of the Crab Hydraulics Class, Can You Help?

I would like to write a short article for the SERC blog or newsletter about our blue crab hydraulics class. If you have any pictures that you’d be willing to share please send them to me at McDonaldK@si.edu. Thanks!

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For the second class of Rocks, Gems, and Minerals we do not need students to bring in anything to exchange, though they may bring in minerals and gems that they would like to share. Please be sure that they bring anything to share in clearly labeled containers with names on them so that there is no confusion.



  • Rock
  • Mineral
  • Gem
  • Mineralogy
  • Luster
  • Specific gravity
  • Crystal form
  • Cleavage
  • Fracture
  • Tenacity
  • Hardness
  • Transparency
  • Friable
  • Lapidary
  • Gemologist
  • Carat

Resources for Everyone (5-12 yr.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a7p1NFn64s this video (10:21) is a great introduction to the properties of minerals.

http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of00-144/ download the poster “Minerals in our Environment” from the USGS and learn about how we use minerals in our everyday lives.

http://www.mnh.si.edu/earth/text/2_0_0.html check out the gems and minerals page from the Smithsonian. Click around to the different links.

http://www.minerals.net/ a neat guide to gems and minerals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqbiXx4KOcQ a catchy song about rocks, gems, and minerals (old school).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-bw7_u3gSQ here’s a short video about testing the hardness of minerals (1:19) it’s not professionally done but a good reference.

8-12 yr. olds

http://www.mineralogy4kids.org/ here’s a good overview site of “Mineralogy for Kids,” again, it’s a bit texty but interesting.

http://core.ecu.edu/geology/woods/MineralPropertiesExplain.htm this page had a lot of text, but the content is good. It’s best for older kids but a good start.


http://facweb.bhc.edu/academics/science/harwoodr/geol101/labs/minerals/ this page is for advanced students, but a great resource. It would probably be best for high schoolers, but the identification quiz is great.

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