Earth Science Week Classroom Activities

What Do Mineralogists Do?

Activity Source:

Mineralogical Society of America. Adapted with permission.

Minerals are the naturally occurring solid materials that make up rocks and sands and are found in soil. You are probably aware of everyday minerals like halite (sodium chloride — table salt), graphite (“lead” in pencils), quartz (main mineral in beach sand), and others. As of this writing, there are 5,663 known minerals, and new ones are still being discovered. You can learn about minerals online in the Handbook of Mineralogy ( Geoscientists who study minerals for a living are called mineralogists. Having an in-depth knowledge of minerals opens many doors to more careers than you might imagine. In this activity, you will explore some of these exciting careers and see if these might be part of your future!


• Computer with Internet access
• Pen or pencil
• Paper


1. You might find it helpful to work with a friend for this activity. Brainstorm the kinds of jobs or activities that you think mineralogists might do in their work. Write down your ideas. Which of these jobs sound interesting to you? Why?

2. The Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) has a collection of videos from people with backgrounds in mineralogy. All of these people talk about what they do for a living and how minerals are important to their work. You can find these videos on MSA’s YouTube Channel at

3. Choose and watch three videos that look interesting to you. As you watch, make notes about how minerals play an important part in these jobs.

a. What knowledge and skills did these people need to do their jobs? Were the activities they describe as part of their job on your original list?

b. How do their jobs help people to know more about minerals?

c. How did they prepare for their careers?

d. What do they find rewarding about their jobs?

4. Which of these jobs could you imagine yourself doing in the future? Why is that? How do their jobs help society? Think about these questions and add your answers to the notes you made about the careers. Discuss your thoughts with a partner.


ThThe United Nations developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address the biggest challenges faced by the world today ( Explore these goals and describe how the mineralogy jobs you learned about can help achieve at least one of these goals.


SEP : Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
DCI : ESS2.A: Earth’s Materials and Systems
CCC : Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World


4 : Quality Education
8 : Decent Work and Economic Growth
12 : Responsible Consumption and Production