Mine for Minerals
In this science activity, kids will learn about minerals and have fun "mining" for gemstones.
Minerals are solid, inorganic (not made by an animal or plant) substances that occur naturally. They have specific crystal structures and chemical compositions. Each mineral has definite physical properties, such as luster (how shiny it is), color and hardness. Some are even magnetic or can glow under a black light! These minerals can be found separately or as part of a rock (a rock is, by definition, two or more minerals).
There are more than 4000 known minerals on earth. Some minerals are considered "precious" and are used to make special objects, such as jewelry. Examples are rubies, sapphires, diamonds, gold and silver.
- Printed mineral key - 1 per class
- Bird seed
- Plastic bowl or similar - 1 per student
- Very small colored beads
- Large Petri dish or similar - 1 per student
- Spoons - 1 per class
Create and print a key that matches minerals to colors. Minerals you could include are:
- Sapphire (blue)
- Ruby (red)
- Emerald (green)
- Amethyst (purple)
- Citrine (yellow)
- Gold (metallic gold)
- Silver (metallic silver)
Fill a bowl with bird seed, then add very small colored beads to represent minerals.
"Mine" for minerals by using a spoon or your fingers to to sift through the bird seed to find the colorful beads. When you find a "mineral," place it in a Petri dish or similar to examine and match to the laminated mineral key"
For younger children, use larger beads or bits of craft dough in bowls of gravel.
Once you have collected the beads, string them together into jewelry.