EOSC118 - Pacific Museum of Earth Activity #1: Mineral Scavenger Hunt

Main Learning Objectives:

Secondary Learning Objectives:

Activity Description:

This activity is designed to help students understand what minerals are and how they can exhibit distinct, but sometimes variable, physical properties. We’ll do this through exploring the Pacific Museum of the Earth --- it can be done in person, through the online virtual tour, or by using both!  Follow the numbered tasks below for Parts 1 and 2, which will guide you through the museum to specific locations:

Pacific Museum of the Earth
Physical Location: Ground Floor of the EOS Main Building, UBC
Website: http://pme.ubc.ca/

In the future, all cases and displays in the museum will have a virtual representation, however, at this point in time we only have a few, all of which we'll use in this exercise. To complete this activity:

  1. Use any of the following virtual exhibits to help you solve the questions of Parts 1 and 2 below, and
  2. Post your proposed answers to "PME Activities Discussion Board" within Connect.

Virtual Exhibits (each link opens a new window):

  1. Case for "Name That Mineral"
  2. Beryl and Corundum case from "The Vault"
  3. Case for "Fossils"
  4. Case of "Peruvian Minerals"
  5. Case for "Smartphones: Miniature Mineral Deposits"
  6. Case of "Various Minerals"
  7. Case for "The Mineral Rainbow"
  8. Exhibit of Amethyst Cluster
  9. Exhibit of Quartz Cluster
  10. Exhibit of Large Pyrite Cluster

*Peer collaboration (visit together!) and use of outside resources is encouraged, including the course content, your textbook, mindat.org, webmineral.com, etc…

The Activity:

Module A in the course develops some of the fundamental principles we need to understand the rest of the course’s content in Modules B and C. In particular, we define the term “mineral”, which has a very specific meaning in the earth sciences:

Part 1

A mineral is a: (i) naturally occurring, (ii) inorganic, (iii) homogeneous solid with a (iv) definite (but generally not fixed) chemical composition and a (v) crystalline structure. The following question will explore each of these points, through finding examples that either fit or do not fit the defintion.

  1. Minerals are naturally occurring. Head to the Case from the Vault and find an example of a material that almost classifies as a mineral but is not naturally occurring, as well as one that is naturally occurring in the same case. What sample and material did you identify?
  2. Minerals are inorganic. Explore the remainder of the cases and suggest an example of a material that occurs in the rock record but does not satisfy the criteria of being inorganic? (Hint: insects)
  3. Minerals are homogenous solids. Suggest an example of a mineral specimen that would exemplify a solid with homegenous compostion.
  4. Minerals have a definite (but generally not fixed) chemical compositions. Suggest an example of a mineral specimen that would exemplify the importance of having a definitie but not necessarily fixed chemical composition.
  5. Minerals have a crystalline structure. Now that you’ve been around the museum, can you suggest an example mineral or display item that exemplifies the fact that minerals are crystalline?

Part 2

For this part, visit the case that discusses mineral identification (“Name that Mineral”) to complete and post answers to the following questions:

  1. Which physical properties are listed as being useful for mineral identification?
  2. When testing for these properties, which of the methods would be destructive to the sample?
  3. How does this list different and similar from the physical properties in our textbook?

Optional Part 3

Since you’re already at the museum (virtually or in person), the following questions can be considered for further thought, as they’ll be discussed either directly or indirectly through the course:

  1. The course discusses crystal systems and in the "Name the Mineral Exhibit" there is a description of the crystal ‘habit.’  What is the difference between a crystal system and a crystal habit?
  2. Look at the “mineral rainbow” display. Why might all of these minerals be different colours?
  3. Examine the quartz and amethyst exhibits. What do these two specimens have in common? Is amethyst a mineral? Why might they be different colours?
  4. Find examples of the minerals kyanite, sillimanite and andalusite in this case. What do they have in common? Why might they have different crystal habits?
  5. Find a mineral from a place you would like to visit!  What mineral is it, and where is it from?
  6. What is your favourite specimen you saw "in" the museum?  What is it that you like about this specimen?

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