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]

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]

Density of Minerals

Density of Minerals Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Minerals Education Coalition; Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration. Density is an intrinsic physical property of minerals that relates to the composition of the mineral and to the pattern in which the mineral’s atoms are arranged. “Intrinsic” means that the property is the same for the mineral, no matter what the size or shape of the sample. In this activity, students will measure and compare the densities of minerals. [Read More]

Determining Mineral Reserves

Determining Mineral Reserves Activity Source: Minerals Education Coalition. This activity was adapted with permission from theOhio Mining & Mineral Education Program (OMMEP) of the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association (OAIMA) in partnership with Wright State University. Common things we use every day, like roads, sidewalks, schools, hospitals and homes ─ to name just a few ─ are made up of rocks and minerals. As a resource, they are called mineral reserves and include materials like sand, gravel, limestone, granite, and other aggregate and construction materials. [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]

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]

Investigating Different Rock Types

Investigating Different Rock Types Activity Source: Adapted with permission by the Association of American State Geologists from AGI’s Investigating Earth Systems, Rocks and Landforms, pp. 1-3. Background In this investigation, you will explore the characteristics of various types of rocks. Why are rocks important to citizen scientists? There are a number of reasons: We live on the topmost layer of the Earth, the crust, which is made of solid rock. We also make structures out of this rock, as well as mine it for useful minerals. [Read More]

Iron Minerals on the Moon

Iron Minerals on the Moon Activity Source: Minerals Education Coalition. Adapted with permission. This easy exercise models one of the processes currently being researched at four U.S. universities to enable recovery of iron and other materials found on the Moon to construct an inhabited workstation. Research is being done to perfect magnetic separation techniques to recover iron-bearing minerals from the lunar soil. Magnetic separation is used to separate iron from other materials in iron ore processing. [Read More]