Rock Chips are Bad for Students

PIN 4I’m a firm believer in hands-on learning. When it comes to teaching geology, I think that students need to have samples of rocks and minerals to feel, observe and test. If you have nice outcrops of rocks in your area, you can collect large samples for teaching activities. Alternatively, you can purchase rock and mineral samples. There are differences in the quality of rock and mineral samples that you can find in the marketplace. Some low quality samples may be mixtures of more than one rock type or mineral type, making it confusing for children to accurately test and identify the samples. Others may be too small to adequately determine the type of rock or mineral samples that you have. Many of these types of rock and mineral samples sell as ‘rock chips’ and while they are cheap, they make teaching rock and mineral identification very difficult. In chip form, a purple fluorite may look too similar to an amethyst and a monzonite may look identical to a granite samples.

For your lessons, look for samples that area at least one to two inches in size. This size will give students a large enough sample to observe mineral characteristics and perform tests without totally destroying the sample. Rock samples should include all of the minerals that make up the rock type without having significant amount of other rock types mix in the sample.

Most of our rock and mineral samples are at least one to two inches in size, except for a few specialty minerals. These smaller specialty minerals are high quality and show the necessary mineral characteristics for mineral identification, which keeping each sample at a reasonable cost. If you need larger samples, we can special order samples that are general 2”x3” to 3”x4”. Contact us for information regarding our larger rock and mineral specimens.


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