Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 5 Collecting


5. Collecting

Kids of all ages love to collect, and most rockhounds are pack rats at heart. We like nothing better than to assemble an assortment of rocks found on our journeys, traded with fellow collectors, or purchased at gem shows and rock shops. A proper collection, however, is more than a bunch of rocks and/or fossils tossed into a box. The value of a collection lies in its curation, or in the information included with your specimens: what it is, where it came from, who collected it, and other unique information. The collection also should be properly organized and stored so individual specimens can be cared for and retrieved easily. Curating your treasures provides an opportunity to learn about the specimens you‘ve collected while improving both the scientific and economic value of your collection. Here are some activities toward these goals:

Activity 5.1: Building a Collection

Build a rock, mineral, fossil, and/or lapidary art collection with at least 10 to 20 specimens. A collection can focus on just one sort of thing (a collection of minerals, a collection of fossils, a collection of jewelry), or it can be a mixture of all these things. Some people get very specialized, collecting, for instance, different kinds of shark teeth or different forms of quartz. Ultimately, a collection reflects the interests of the collector.

Activity 5.2: Cataloging and Labeling Your Collection

Take care to curate your collection. Number your specimens and, for each one, include a label and keep a logbook or catalog with key information. For rocks and minerals, this includes what it is and where it came from. For fossils, you should include both those facts as well as information about the age of the fossil. Labels for a lapidary project might include what it is, what it‘s made from, when it was made, and who made it.

Activity 5.3: Storing a Collection

Store your collection. Each specimen should be in its own small box or baggie. The small boxes might then be kept in trays, shoe boxes, cigar boxes, shallow shelves, soda flats, or whatever works best for you and the space you have to store your collection.

Activity 5.4: Displaying Your Collection

Prepare a display to exhibit to your fellow pebble pups at a club meeting or to show to the public in a club show. In this display, you should include not just your specimens but also labels to tell your viewers what it is they‘re seeing. (See Badge 6: Showmanship.)

Activity 5.5: Reporting About Your Collection

Give a presentation or write an article for your club newsletter or a report for your youth leader about your collection. For instance, what do you like to collect and why? Do you have any special stories to tell about 2 or 3 of the specimens in your collection? If you have a mineral collection, what‘s your most valuable mineral and why? If you have a fossil collection, what‘s your oldest fossil? Youngest? Most interesting? If you have a collection of lapidary arts, describe how a particular piece was made. (See Badge 7: Communication.)