Some Rocks & Minerals May Be Ugly on the Outside but Beautiful on the Inside

Carnelian GeodeIt’s easy to pass by rocks and minerals while you are walking around but you never know what is lurking  inside. Out in nature, most rocks and minerals may look drab and dingy because all of our different weather conditions that will wear away sharp points, dull the vibrant colors and cause cracks in the surface of the samples.

Carnelian is one mineral in particular which looks rather boring on the outside because of this weathering but when you break it open to see a fresh surface, you can see vibrant orange colors and sometimes, a hidden surprise.

Rain, wind, snow, ice, heat and cold all affect the nature and appearance of the Earth’s exposed rocks and minerals.  Rocks that are out in the open will change the way they look due to repeated exposure to the weather over a long period of time.  Hot summers and cold winters will make the rocks expand and contract which can cause cracks and flakes in the surface. The wind, rain, snow, and ice can change the color of a rock from vibrant to dull. All of these processes can also wear away crystal surfaces and change the shape of a sample as well.

When you come upon a rock or mineral and want to get a good look at it, you will need to use a rock hammer (or similar item) to break the rock and collect a small piece.  Look at the fresh surface that was not exposed to the weather to see the true characteristics of the rock.

This carnelian sample is a perfect example of a mineral that looks dull and drab on the outside (top picture) due to weathering processes, but when the sample was broken, we found out that it was actually a small geode with quartz crystals lining an open space on the inside (bottom picture). Look closely at the picture on the bottom, and you can see a beautiful, orange mineral that surrounds the geode center of clear quartz crystals. Carnelian is a natural orangish-red variety of the mineral quartz but not all samples have a geode center. You can learn more about Carnelian and its properties here.

So the next time you are outside, take a minute to look at the rocks and minerals around you. Just because they maybe a dull gray or brown outside, does not mean that there isn’t something fabulous inside waiting to be discovered!

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Use Rock Walks to Connect with Your Kids and Science

Rock WalkingLooking for some fun time with the kids away from the television, phones and video games?

Try a “Rock Walk!”

Sure, some people may call them nature walks but here at Mini Me Geology, every walk is a rock walk because we are always on the lookout for great rock or mineral samples everywhere we go.

No matter where you live, you can find at least a little nature somewhere nearby. Even in bustling cities, there are parks with grass, trees, and rocks all around. Parks, trails, mountains, and beaches are just a few of the great places you can take a Rock Walk with your kids. You can have fun spending time together while you are getting exercise and learning about nature. Once you find a great place to walk, let you kids explore as you go to see how many rocks and minerals they can find. Take along zip bags to keep their favorite samples for their collections.

But there are no rocks around us!?!

Yes, I get that not every town has great rock outcrops or pebble-filled rivers to explore, but you can at least find the building blocks of rocks. For example, we are located on the coast of South Carolina. If you have ever been here, you know that there are no rock outcrops. But we do have great trails and beaches where we can find sand, which is the building block of sandstone and quartzite, silt which is the building block of siltstone and clay which may someday become shale or slate.

When you get home with your zip bag of goodies, you can help your kids break open the rocks to see the inside. Usually, a fresh surface will show you the features, colors and textures of the rock better than a dull, weathered surface that was subjected to wind and rain for years. Always be careful when you crack a rock sample. Wear safety goggles and wrap your rock in a towel before you hit it with a hammer. Before you give your kids the cracked sample, check for sharp edges. Rocks with hard minerals, such as quartz, may have sharp edges. You can easily file or sand the edges to make them smooth.

And, okay, if you absolutely must take your phones with you, use the camera to take some pictures of the samples you find and send them to us either here on the blog or on our Facebook page!

If you need help identifying your samples, download our free Rock and Mineral Identification Flow Charts or post your pictures and we will help you out.

Happy Rock Walking!

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Use these cool new tools to discover the name of your mineral!

Accessories Kit Blog Image_August 21 2016

As someone who loves rocks and minerals, finding a new sample is super exciting. Geologists use some very basic tools to help them determine the name of a rock or a mineral. Identifying a sample starts with discovering the names of the mineral or minerals, in the case of rocks.

The tests that geologist use for minerals include:

Examination: Use a hand magnifier to determine luster, cleavage, shape and color of a sample. A rock hammer is sometimes helpful in determining cleavage and color if you don’t mind breaking your sample.

Hardness: Use the Mohs Hardness Scale, old pre-1982 pennies, paper clips, glass plates, and your own fingernail to determine the hardness of your sample.

Streak: Use white and black streak plates to determine the streak color (the color of a mineral powder) to help make an identification.

Fizz Test: Use fresh lemon juice or vinegar on a fresh surface of your sample. Hydrochloric acid is the most common acid used by geologist but it is not easy to purchase and lemon juice and vinegar are a better choice for children. Since lemon juice and vinegar are a weaker acid, use a paper clip to scratch the surface of the sample to removed any weathered outer layer. The lemon juice or vinegar will react best on a fresh sample area. Remember, if your sample fizzes, it is made of calcite!

Mini Me Geology’s new Rock and Mineral Testing Kit has everything you need to get started with identifying your samples.

Each Kit Includes:

      • Mini Me Geology Hand Lens with 3x and 6x magnification helps you see your samples closely,
      • Pre-1982 age penny,
      • Large metal paperclip,
      • Glass plate,
      • White streak plate,
      • Black streak plate,
      • Information cards that teach you about the Mohs Hardness Scale and how to perform each test. These cards include instructions for hardness testing, explain how to perform the streak test and how to focus your new hand lens so you can see the details of your rocks and minerals.

As you gather your data from testing each sample, a flow chart is a helpful tool to find the final identity. Mini Me Geology has free basic identification flow charts that you can download and print. For advanced studies, we also offer identification posters which explain the properties 10 of the most popular minerals. We also have posters for igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, and metamorphic rocks.

If you need help testing your samples, you can always contact us and our geologist will help you!

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Summer is coming…Register Now for Rock Detectives Camp 2016

Rock Detectives Camp 2016 imageWe are having Rock Detectives Camp again this summer! Woot!!

Every year camp is more fun with exciting experiments, games and more fun. Kids age 8 to 12 can spend five fun afternoons identifying rocks and minerals, panning for crystals, making and exploding their own volcanoes, creating fake rocks and much more. During the camp, kids will participate in a Rock Bingo tournament and play Rock Jeopardy.

Each day of the camp has a different theme.

Day 1 = Minerals
Day 2 = Igneous Rocks
Day 3 = Sedimentary Rocks
Day 4 = Metamorphic Rocks
Day 5 = The Rock Cycle

On the first day, the kids receive and decorate a rock box to hold their collection that they assemble during the camp. Each day begins with a puzzle related to the day’s theme then a short lesson about minerals, rocks or the rock cycle. Each day of the camp, the kids receive two mineral or rock samples to identify and keep for their own collection that coincides with the day’s theme. On Rock Cycle day, the campers receive “mystery” samples that may be either minerals or rocks.

If you have any questions about camp, please email our camp leader, Tracy Barnhart, at To register for the camp, visit the Mt Pleasant Recreation website.

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Our Newest Mineral Kit: Mineral Observation, Hardness & Streak Testing Kit

Hardness Kit Key Image_textWe are thrilled to introduce our latest mineral kit, the Mineral Observation, Hardness and Streak Testing Kit. This new kit will teach your kids to make scientific observations, test the hardness of minerals using the Mohs Scale and the using streak plates, and compare the properties of the samples in the kit. The kit includes eight mineral samples from the Mohs Hardness Scale: talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, feldspar, quartz and corundum. You also receive a hand magnifier, white streak plate, black streak plate and information cards with details on each mineral sample and instructions on how to perform the tests.

Mineral Observation
The hand lens with 3x and 6x magnification helps you see the samples closely while you explore the world of minerals. To examine the minerals, look through the larger, 3X, area of the hand lens first.  This section magnifies the sample to a size three times larger than actual. If you want to see part of the sample even more closely, use the smaller, 6X, area which magnifies the sample to six times its actual size.

Mineral Hardness
Mineral hardness an important key in the identity of a sample. Friedrich Mohs
, a German geologist, developed the Hardness Scale in 1812. The Mohs scale is a relative scale which lists the hardness of 10 common minerals. Talc, #1 on the scale is the softest and diamond, #10, is the hardest. Other common household item have also been assigned to the hardness scale such as glass, fingernail and  penny. The information cards in the kit include a copy of the Mohs Hardness Scale and instructions on how to use the minerals and household items to determine the hardness of each sample. Hint: each sample has a different hardness.

Mineral Streak
Mineral streak is the color of the sample in powdered form. Usually, you use a white streak plate for dark minerals and a black streak plate for light colored minerals. As you scratch the mineral across the plate, a small portion will break apart and form a powder on the surface of the plate. This powder color is the streak. Often, the streak is the same color as the mineral; however sometimes the streak color is different than the outward appearance of the mineral which is a great clue to the mineral’s identity.

Need Help?
The mineral samples are not identified when you receive the kit because we want you to use the hardness and streak test to help you determine the identity of each sample. If you need help, the image shown above identifies each sample. The samples in your kit should look very similar. As always, if you have additional questions about using the Mohs hardness scale or the streak plates, please contact us and we are happy to help.

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Moooom, I’m Soooo Booooooored!

Rock DetectivesHave you heard it yet? “Moooooom, I’m Soooooo Booooooored!” It doesn’t take long for kids to get bored once school is out. Keep them busy and save summer boredom with the Rock Detectives kits! Each kit has hours of activities and fun to keep your kids busy all summer long. They will even learn something, but you do not have to tell them that.

We have six Rock Detectives kits to occupy your kids this summer. They are:

  • Mineral Mission
  • Crystal Experiments
  • Crystal Geometry
  • Igneous Investigation
  • Metamorphic Mystery
  • Sedimentary Sleuthing

Each kit has a theme and will teach your kids about a different type of rock or about the unique properties of minerals. Every kit has 6 or 7 Large Mineral or Rock Samples and a Mini Me Geology custom Hand Lens with 3X and 6X magnifications.

The best part of each kit is the 30 page, full color E-book on CD. The printable E-book includes:

  • rock and mineral information
  • sample identification activities
  • word puzzles and mazes
  • coloring pages
  • experiments
  • an adventure story writing exercise for your geology detective
  • activities including making a personal geologist’s field notebook and your very own rock collection box

Whew! That’s a lot of fun!

You can preview the E-books for all of our kits by clicking here. Questions? Just email us and we will help you with anything you want to know about the kits. Happy Summer!


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Introducing Our Newest Addition to the Mineral Family: Carnelian

Carnelian w Text LongWe are excited to announce that we have a new member of the Mini Me Geology mineral family and its name is Carnelian. Carnelian is a brownish red to orange variety of the mineral Chalcedony (which is a form of quartz). The color of the stone can vary within each sample from pale yellow and orange to darker orange and reddish brown in different areas.

Carnelian is a popular gemstone for jewelry and collecting. Carnelian has a hardness of 6.5 to 7, no cleavage, a white streak and a waxy to resinous luster. Visit Mini Me Geology today and get your own sample of Carnelian.

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Today is National Let’s Laugh Day!

Today is National Let’s Laugh Day! In the spirit of all things funny, here is some of our favorite geology humor.


Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #10  You have ever had to respond “yes” to the question, “What have you got in here, rocks?”

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #9  You have taken a 22-passenger van over “roads” really intended only for cattle!

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #8  You have had to explain to airport security that a rock hammer isn’t really a weapon.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #7  Your rock garden is located inside your house.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #6  You have ever hung a picture using a Brunton & your rock hammer.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #5  Your collection of beer cans & bottles rivals the size of your rock collection.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #4  You think a “recent event” is anything that has happened in the last 100,000 yrs.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #3 Your photos include people only for scale & you have more pictures of your rock hammer & lens cap than of your family.

Top Ten Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #2 You have been on a field trip that included scheduled stops at a gravel pit and a liquor store.

Top Ten Signs You Might Be A Geologist: #1 You have ever uttered the phrase “have you tried licking it” with no sexual connotations involved.


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Happy Birthday Friedrich Mohs!

Today is German Geologist Friedrich Mohs’ 242nd Birthday! He developed the Mohs Hardness Scale for minerals during this career. Still today, we use mineral hardness as a clue to the identity of a sample.  Click here to learn more about the Mohs Hardness Scale for minerals and how it is important to geologists today.

In celebration of Mr. Mohs’ birthday, all of our mineral kits and select samples from the Mohs Hardness Scale are 20% today through Sunday! Click here to shop our Mohs Birthday Sale!

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Petrified Wood has arrived!

Mini Me Geology is excited to announce the newest addition to our family of rocks, minerals and fossils:  PETRIFIED WOOD!

Petrified wood is a fossil that forms when sediment buries and protects plant material from decay. Groundwater rich in dissolved solids such as silica and calcium carbonate flows through the sediment and replaces the original plant material. The mineral-rich water replaces the plant material with quartz (silica), calcite, pyrite or opal among others. The result is a fossil of the original plant material. Because the plant material is replaced, the fossil often preserves details of the bark, wood and cellular structures.

Our petrified wood samples are introductory priced at $3.00 through January 25, 2015 so grab your samples today!

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