Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

7.2 Written Report


7.2: Written Report or Newsletter Article

At regional and national federation levels, awards are given for best articles published in club newsletters, with a category for articles by kids. Encourage your kids to contribute to your club‘s newsletter, or, if you don‘t have one, to write up a brief report to share with you and the other kids in your club. Learning to write a good report is a skill that will benefit kids in school and beyond. In teaching your kids to write an article, you should use the same six key questions noted for Activity 7.1: Who? What? Where? When? How? Why? This handy list helps them both to organize the report and to come up with ideas for what to say in their article.

In addition, encourage kids to try different genres or types of articles. One genre is the anecdote, or story. Kids might write about a specific memorable event that happened while on a collecting field trip that, at the same time, packs in useful information about where they went and what could be found there. For instance, I vividly remember reading one field trip article that told the story of an encounter with a wild burro that ransacked a campsite near the Mojave mining town of Darwin. The central focus was the encounter with the burro. But in telling the story, the author provided readers with a lot of history about past mining days in the desert, minerals that collectors can find in the old mine dumps, and the wonderful wildlife and colorful characters living in the region. Another genre is the technical article. Such an article is more scientific in nature and usually involves some background reading and research. A technical article might describe how a geode or petrified wood forms. It might describe the different classifications of crystal structures. In writing a technical article, kids should end with a list of the books they consulted for their information. Yet another genre describes a process, or provides a set of directions. An example of such an article would be one that describes in detail the steps for completing a lapidary project, such as crafting a cab. These articles usually begin with a brief overview of what is being made. Then, the necessary tools and materials are listed. Finally, each step in the process is described in numbered or outlined form. For examples of such an article, see Growing Crystals or Making a Fossil. Still another genre is the tall tale, or the humorous story that conveys information or expresses an opinion in a way that elicits a laugh. The perfect example is Mark Twain.

Encourage kids to write several articles, trying different styles (funny/serious; technical/informal) until they find a style that fits them best. Publish as many as you can in your club newsletter. Seeing their names in print can be a big boost for kids‘ self confidence and—as noted above—could lead to recognition by a regional federation and the AFMS if your newsletter editor submits articles into consideration for annual federation awards.

Note: Because several other badges involve writing a paper, kids can work toward earning their Communication badge and other badges simultaneously. For instance, see Activities 1.7 (Rocks & Minerals), 2.2, 2.4, and 2.6 (Earth Resources), 3.6 (Fossils), 4.5 (Lapidary Arts), 5.5 (Collecting), 8.4 (Field Trips), 9.5 (Leadership), 11.3 (Earth in Space), 12.2, and 12.3 (Gold Panning & Prospecting), 13.3, 13.4, and 13.5 (Gemstone Lore & Legend), 14.5 (Stone Age Tools & Art), 15.2 (Rocking on the Computer), and 19.3 and 19.5 (Reaching across Generations).