A Paste with a Taste

A Paste with a Taste Activity Source: Adapted by the MEC from Women in Mining Education Foundation Activities Purpose To allow students to produce a “marketable” product made from minerals that are used by most people every day. Both the abrasive and cleansing compounds found in toothpaste, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, are minerals. Materials Calcium carbonate (finely powdered unflavored TUMS will work) Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) Small plastic cups (1 for each student) Popsicle sticks for stirring (1 for each student) Eye droppers (1 for each group) Plastic spoons (1 for each group) Water Assorted food colors and flavorings (sugar, mint extract, etc. [Read More]

Birdseed Mining

Birdseed Mining Activity Source: “Birdseed Mining,” Women in Mining Education Foundation, 2005. Adapted with permission. Background Mining is a complex process in which valuable or useful materials are removed from large masses of rock. Materials Wild bird food - any birdseed mix that contains sunflower seeds and at least two other seed varieties Shallow pans Small beads (approximately 2mm) in blue, gold, and silver Medium beads (approximately 4-6 mm) in white Procedure Organize groups of four to six students. [Read More]

Build a Model Aquifer

Build a Model Aquifer Activity Source: Source: Geoscientists Without Borders®, Society of Exploration Geophysicists Foundation. https://seg.org/gwb Adapted with permission. The United Nations includes clean water and sanitation in its sustainable development goals. Many places face severe water shortages. The Geoscientists Without Borders® (GWB) program supports teams to collaborate with communities to solve problems, including water shortages. GWB scientists use geophysical techniques to find underground layers of sediments or rock that contain enough water to be drilled for water wells. [Read More]

Cookie Mining

Cookie Mining Activity Source: Adapted from Women in Mining Education Foundation Activities Purpose The purpose of this activity is to give the player an introduction to the economics of mining. Each player buys “property,” purchases the “mining equipment,” pays for the “mining operation,” and finally pays for the “reclamation.” In return, the player receives money for the “ore mined.” The object of the game is to develop the mine, safeguard the environment, and make as much money as possible. [Read More]

Earth and Ancient Architecture

Earth and Ancient Architecture Activity Source: Archaeological Institute of America. Adapted with permission. Architects and engineers often design and build structures inspired by the earth’s natural formations and shapes. This was also true for the ancient builders that built pyramidal structures and platforms with broad bases and tapered sides, inspired in most cases by the hills and mountains they saw around them. While many societies built them, pyramids and platforms across different cultures were not all alike, differing in shape, function, and construction materials, and techniques. [Read More]

Erosion in a Bottle

Erosion in a Bottle Activity Source: Source: Soil Science Society of America. Adapted with permission. Soil erosion is the process of moving soil by water or wind — this happens naturally or through human interference. Preventing soil erosion is important because nutrients are lost, and sediment that accumulates in waterways impacts life there. Conserving soil depends on how it is protected by plants and coverings. You will model erosion by water and compare the amounts of runoff and soil loss generated from three different ground cover types. [Read More]

Exploring Porosity

Exploring Porosity Activity Source: The NEED Project. Adapted with permission. Earth scientists play a vital role in harvesting the energy resources on which we all rely. When preparing to drill for oil, for example, geoscientists must assess many aspects of a rock stratum (layer). For example, they must figure out the volume of the rock’s pores, or empty spaces, as compared with the rock’s total volume. This is called the rock’s porosity. [Read More]

Frozen Power

Frozen Power Activity Source: Source: Geological Society of America. Written by Greg McNamara, Christine V. McLelland, Gary B. Lewis, Davida Buehler, and Yueyi Che. Adapted with permission. You may be familiar with ice cubes in your favorite soda, but do you know there are very big ice cubes (scientists call them glaciers) hundreds to thousands of meters thick, lying in places with high mountains? These glaciers shaped beautiful landscapes all around the world — from Glacier National Park to Yosemite, from Patagonia in South America to the Himalayas in Asia. [Read More]

Gold Panning

Gold Panning Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Adrienne Barnett, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California. “Thar’s gold in them thar classrooms!” History meets Earth science in the fun, hands-on activity below. Some gold deposits, or lodes, are found in veins of fractured rock. After millions of years of weathering, gold nuggets and flakes are eroded out of the veins and carried away by streams and rivers. Gold is 19 times heavier than water and tends to settle on the bottom and in the bends of rivers, streams, and lakes with sand and gravel, forming deposits called placer. [Read More]

Grow Your Own Crystals

Grow Your Own Crystals Activity Source: Source: Mineralogical Society of America. Adapted with permission. Most minerals happen naturally as crystals. Crystals are made of specific atoms or molecules joined to make distinctive repeating patterns. The crystals that make up many kinds of minerals are formed deep underground through the interaction of fluid, pressure, and temperature. Some minerals form at or near the surface. You may have seen spectacular mineral samples in museums, but you might not be aware that minerals are everywhere, including in your body. [Read More]