Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 1 Rocks and Minerals

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Rocks and Minerals Badge

To earn this badge, you should demonstrate how to identify common minerals and learn the basic rock types. Other activities involve learning about crystals and your state rock or mineral. This unit also helps you start building your own rock and mineral collection.

Activity 1.1: Learning the Characteristics of Minerals

Buy a book or pick one up at the library to learn about different minerals and their characteristics. Make a chart of common minerals and their characteristics in terms of things such as color, streak, cleavage, fracture, luster, hardness, crystal shape, and weight, or specific gravity. In your chart, list various common minerals down the first column, and then have separate columns to note characteristics of each mineral.

Activity 1.2: Making and Using a Mineral ID Kit

Make a mineral ID kit that will allow you to demonstrate familiarity with characteristics of minerals (color, streak, hardness, relative weight, reaction to a weak acid solution such as vinegar, etc.). Using your mineral ID kit, along with a chart of mineral characteristics, successfully identify at least a half dozen minerals presented by your youth leader.

Activity 1.3: Building a Mineral Collection

Build a collection of 10 to 20 minerals. Some collectors focus on a single mineral, with specimens from around the world to show different forms. A quartz collection might include amethyst from Brazil, clear crystals from Arkansas, and smoky quartz from Pikes Peak. Other collectors concentrate on a local area and collect all the minerals that might be found in one quarry, city, county, or state. Still others opt for variety and collect a little bit of everything. Whichever form you choose for your collection, be sure to follow the basics of good curation: label each specimen and keep a catalog with key information about what it is and where it came from. (See Badge 5: Collecting.)

Activity 1.4: The Three Rock Types

Describe the three basic rock types (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and build a collection with samples of each type. (See Badge 10: Earth Processes.)

Activity 1.5: Crystal Shapes

Draw crystal shapes and/or make crystal models with blocks of styrofoam or with styrofoam balls and dowels, with cardboard, etc. Some common crystal shapes are cubic, hexagonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, triclinic, tetragonal, and trigonal.

Activity 1.6: Growing Crystals and Making Geodes

Using a material like sugar, table salt, or Epsom salts, grow different forms of crystals.

Activity 1.7: State Rocks, Minerals, and Gemstones

Just as each state has its own flag, many have a State Mineral or State Rock. Find out what your state rock, mineral, or gemstone is and write a report about it for your club newsletter or talk about it at one of your club meeting. If your state doesn‘t have an official mineral or rock, write to your governor and state legislature to nominate one!