The Education GeoSource database has thousands of free resources, from lessons to outreach and teacher professional development, for use in classrooms, scout programs, or at home.
Resource: Hands-on Activities
A Winch Lightens the Load
How do well winches help people haul water from deep inside a well? Students design a model well winch that raises and lowers a full bucket without spilling any of it.
The Rock Cycle
The Geological Society of London’s Online interactive resource The Rock Cycle, with the Rock Cycle Animation, shows how surface and deep Earth processes produce the rocks we stand on and use to build our homes. Also find a glossary, demonstrations/experiments and extensive background information about the rock cycle.
Wild and Cool Colors
Observe the interesting optical effects schiller, iridescence, pleochroism, and alexandrite effect.
Very Attractive Minerals
Test objects to determine which minerals, rocks, and other materials are naturally magnetic.
Time to Split
Break minerals to observe their cleavage or fracture. How a mineral breaks depends upon the mineral’s structure. Cleavage is an easily demonstrated property of minerals such as calcite, halite, and mica.
The Popcorn Mineral
Students take a small piece of unexpanded vermiculite, holding it with tongs or long tweezers, and insert it into the ﬂame of a propane torch. The vermiculite expands rapidly to many times its original thickness.
The Mineral That Gets A Suntan
Exposure to ultraviolet light causes changes in minerals. One of the lesser-known phenomena is tenebrescence, in which a mineral actually changes color upon exposure to ultraviolet light (this is not the same as ﬂuorescence). Using an ultraviolet light, you can give a mineral a reversible “suntan.”
Tested by Fire
Everyone loves ﬁreworks and students often wonder how ﬁreworks get their rich colors. Using the flame test, students can produce their own colored flames and learn about ﬁreworks, minerals, and their common elements.
Soft as a Baby’s Skin
Rank samples as harder or softer by scratching them with your fingernails. Once the specimens are ranked by hardness, test that softer ones cannot scratch harder ones.
On the Mohs Hardness Scale, talc or soapstone has a Mohs hardness of 1 and is even softer than your skin. Your fingernail can scratch gypsum, which has a hardness of 2, but not calcite, with a hardness of 3. Your fingernail thus has a hardness of about 2.5.