Rocks and Minerals



In the chapter "Rocks and Minerals" the students will have the opportunity to work with 30 minerals and rocks in a hands-on data collection center. Then the students will study the concepts and processes associated with those same minerals and rocks at the computer center. You will need to locate the following materials to allow your students to complete the lessons.


A "Rocks and Minerals" lab kit which includes the following items;



Plastic boxes to hold the lab materials and the rock and mineral specimen. The number of boxes will be determined by the number of groups that your class has. I would suggest no more than four students per group.


30 rocks and minerals specimen


Lesson 1-granite, biotite mica , white feldspar, hornblende, milky 


Lesson 2-talc, galena, hematite, magnetite, calcite


Lesson 3-pumice, obsidian, basalt, gabbro, rhyolite


Lesson 4-conglomerate, limestone, shale, breccia, and gray sandstone


Lesson 5-slate, marble, schist, gneiss, quartzite
Lesson 6-anthracite coal, red sandstone, kaolinite, rose quartz, halite


Lab materials

glass slides, pennies, iron nails, eye droppers and bottles, vinegar, streak plates, magnets, and magnifying lenses.

You will need one each of the above testing materials for each group.


Data collection sheets

Each student should receive data collection sheets which will cover all 30 rocks and minerals specimen. The students will perform 11 tests and collect the data from the different tests on each rock or mineral sample.

Color- The students will look at the sample and write down the color that they see in the sample.

Streak -The students will scratch the specimen across the streak plate to determine the color of the streak.

Luster- The students will determine if the mineral has a metallic or non-metallic luster. If the luster is non-metallic the student will determine if the sample is earthy, pearly, vitreous, or greasy.

Acid Test- The students will use an eyedropper to put a drop of vinegar onto the sample and watch with the hand lens to see if any "FIZZING" occurs. If a chemical reaction occurs with the dilute acid then the students are able to determine if any calcium carbonate is present.

Magnetism- The students will touch the specimen with a magnet to determine if the specimen is magnetic.

Hardness Tests- The tests are used to determine the relative hardness of a rock or mineral. To determine the hardness the students will scratch the testing material (ie: glass slide, penny etc.) with the rock sample to determine which is harder. 
When the students are testing the hardness they can stop when their sample is found to be softer than the testing material.

Fingernail- The students will scratch the rock specimen with their thumbnail to determine if the sample is harder or softer than their nail. If the mineral scratches their nail then the sample is harder than the nail. The students can X the column under the fingernail and proceed to the next test. Hardness = 2.5 on Mohs hardness scale.

Penny- The students will scratch a copper penny to determine if the specimen is harder or softer than the penny. Hardness = 3 on Mohs hardness scale.

Iron Nail- The students will continue to test the samples hardness with the iron nail. Hardness = 4.5 on Mohs hardness scale.

Glass Slide- The glass slide is the last hardness test. If the sample is harder than the glass slide explain to the students that the sample is above 6 on the hardness scale and there are not many common minerals that are that hard. Quartz is the hardest of the common minerals at 7 on the hardness scale.

Layers/Bands/Crystals- The students will examine the rock specimen for sedimentary layers, metamorphic bands, and crystal formation. Explain to the students that there is a difference between bands and layers. Have the students record what they see on their data collection chart.


The first lesson "Rocks " works with the following specimen of rocks and minerals; Granite, biotite mica, quartz, feldspar, and hornblende. At the computer center the students will study the concepts and processes that form rocks.


In the second lesson "Minerals " the students will work with the following minerals; Galena, magnetite, hematite, talc, and calcite. The students will be exposed to the processes and concepts associated with the formation of minerals.


The third lesson deals with igneous rocks. The students will become aware of the processes that cause the formation of igneous rocks. The students will work hands-on with the following rocks; pumice, obsidian, gabbro, basalt, and rhyolite.


The fourth lesson involves the students learning about the processes that form sedimentary rocks . They will work hands-on with the following rocks; conglomerate, breccia, limestone, gray sandstone, and shale.


The fifth lesson in this series involves teaching about the concepts and processes involved in the formation of metamorphic rocks . The students will work hands-on with the following rock samples; slate, schist, gneiss, white marble, quartzite.


The sixth lesson in this series involves teaching about the processes of coal and fossil formation. The students will be working hands-on with the following samples of rocks and minerals; Anthracite coal , halite, pyrite, kaolinite, dolomite, and graphite.