Minerals are amazing things. They naturally form crystals that would challenge the skills of a jeweler. They are the main components of most of the rocks that form the Earth, and they are the raw materials that give us metals, glass, concrete, and many other materials that we depend on every day. They are also the first step we will take in exploring the science of geology. We need to understand minerals to understand rocks, and understanding rocks is necessary to understanding the way the Earth works.
Be sure to check the Mineral Resources page for materials list, suggested reading, where to get specimens, etc.
The first step will be to explore the definition of a mineral, which may lead to some surprises. In the world of science, the word "mineral" has a very specific meaning, which is often very different from the way it is used in everyday language.
- Understanding What "Naturally Occurring" Means
- Understanding what "inorganic" means.
- Understanding what "solid" means
- Understanding what "chemical formula" means
- Understanding What "Internal Crystalline Structure" Means
- What is a Mineral? Putting it all together
Once you know what a mineral is, then we will explore some of the tests that are used to identify minerals, including:
Each has a short video to introduce the test, followed by information and activities to polish your skills, and help you learn to identify mineral specimens.
Look around you. How many of the objects that you see are made from minerals? In this section, we will look at some important, economic minerals, and see how they are used.
How can a random assortment of molecules naturally form such beautiful and precise geometric shapes? In this section, we will explore the different ways that crystals form, measure their angles, and even grow some crystals of our own.
- Growing Crystals from Solution
- Growing Crystals by Cooling
- Hydrothermal Crystals
- Crystal Angles
- Watching Microscopic Crystals Grow
This is a list of all the materials that you will need to complete this unit. The list will be updated regularly, as new activities are added.
- Where to Get Mineral Specimens
A few suggestions for easy ways to start your mineral collection.
A basic vocabulary for this unit.
- Suggested Reading List
Some of my favorite mineral books.