Note to the Teacher: This lesson plan is compatible with any grade, but seems to work best with middle school students. It may be used in Earth Science, Chemistry, Social Studies, History, Ethics, Geography or Economics classes.

 
Mineralogy, Astronomy, & Ancient Wisdom

SUBTOPIC: History of Mineralogy

OBJECTIVES:

The Students are asked to:

1) construct the "five regular solids," which will be used to study the crystal system of minerals

2) through library research, write a report on mineralogy and its history

3) locate on a world map where each of the minerals (assigned during activity #2) are located or deposited

4) debate the effect mining will have on the economy and ecology of the region

5) use the five regular solids to study and identify the six crystal systems of minerals

6) identify the physical and chemical properties of minerals


Background Information 

Humans have always been fascinated with rocks and minerals. Diamonds, gold, silver and other precious minerals are a source of wealth and power. Part of the fascination comes from the order contained in the crystalline structure of minerals.

Like many scientists, Johannes Kepler, when he discovered why there were only six planets, recognized order and symmetry among the planets. He followed the Copernican system and related geometry to his idea of the six planets and the knowledge of the ancients that there are only five solids whose sides are regular polygons.

Kepler conceived that the five solids were contained within each planetary sphere. For example, within Saturn's orbit was an inscribed cube, and within the cube was another sphere containing the orbit of Jupiter, as well as the tetrahedron. The tetrahedron (four equilateral triangles), cube (six squares), octahedron (eight eguilateral triangles), dodecahedron (twelve regular pentagons), and icosahedron (twenty equilateral triangles) are exemplified in the scheme. 

Just as Kepler utilized geometry to bring order to the planets, students will be able to see order and symmetry in the study of minerals and rocks.


ACTIVITY #1:

Constructing and Identifying the Five Regular Solids
           45 minutes

MATERIALS: CONSTRUCTION PAPER, SCISSORS, PENCIL, GLUE

PROCEDURE:

1) Divide the class into groups of four to five students.

2) Give a pattern of the five solids to the students to trace onto a different color of construction paper. Include tabs along the edges of the triangles and pentagons which permit the sides of the figures to be joined.

3) Students are to glue the patterns together and label each.

4) Have students discuss what each shape represents. The shapes will be used later to study the six crystal systems of minerals, as well as to understand how Kepler used these symmetrical objects to design the solar system.


ACTIVITY #2:

The History of Mineralogy
           2 library visits, and 4 class periods

MATERIALS: TEXTBOOKS, ENCYCLOPEDIAS, RESOURCES ON MINERALOGY 

PROCEDURE:

1) After the school librarian gives students a brief introduction to where they may find reference materials, the students should write a three to five page report on mineralogy and its history. 

The report will cover the following items:

a) what mineralogy is

b) man's early interest in mineralogy, and the importance of minerals in human society

c) what a mineral is

d) the characteristics (properties) of minerals

e) the eight elements that constitute about 98% of the earth's crust from which minerals form

f) research of one mineral and explanation of its use and location (where it is mined), as well as the effect of mining the mineral on the ecology, economy and social issues that could effect the region

Note: Assign each student a different mineral so as to included all common minerals. Chemical composition and chemical formula for each mineral may also be included.

ACTIVITY #3:

Location of the Common Minerals on the World Map
           1 class period

MATERIALS: WORLD MAPS, COLORED PENCILS, MAGIC MARKERS, PENCILS, REPORTS FROM EXERCISE #2

PROCEDURE:

Note: A history teacher may wish to conduct this lab.

1) Give each group of four students a blank world map.

2) Students are to label each continent and country (major countries are where the minerals are located).

3) Students will give the location of each of the minerals on the map using different colors (the teacher will compile data from the student reports in Activity #2 for student's use).

4) Construct a legend of the map.

5) For an additional class activity, each student may place his or her individual mineral on the map.


ACTIVITY #4:

Viewing "The Music of the Spheres"
           50 minutes

MATERIALS: The film "The Music of the Spheres," from the Ascent of Man series (Bronowski).

PROCEDURE:

Take a class period to view the film, and follow with a class discussion.


ACTIVITY #5:

Identify the Physical and Chemical Properties of Minerals
             2-3 class periods

MATERIALS: MINERALS, PENNY, NAIL, GLASS, STEEL FILE, EGG, CARTONS, STREAK PLATES, GOGGLES, GEOLOGY HAMMER, FIELD HARDNESS SCALE, PAPER, PENCIL, DENSITY KITS, MINERAL IDENTIFICATION MANUALS, SUCH AS THE GOLDEN GUIDE TO ROCKS AND MINERALS

PROCEDURE:

1) Divide students into groups of four.

2) Review with them the procedure to follow in identifying the physical and chemical properties of minerals.

3) Students will record the physical and chemical properties and of minerals on a chart (found in any Earth Science lab manual).

4) Give each student 7 minerals to identify.


Bibliography

Bowen, Margarita. Empiricism and Geographical Thought: From Francis Bacon to Alexander Von Humboldt. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP, 1981.

Bronowski, Jacob. "The Ascent of Man." (Film Series)

Cohen, I. Bernard. Album of Science: From Leonardo to Lavoiser, 1450-1800. Scribner, 1980.

Cohen, I. Bernard. "Koestler on Kepler and the History of Man's Picture of the Universe." Scientific American 200 (1959).

Desautels, Paul E. Rocks and Minerals. Grosset and Dunlap.

Dietrich, R. V. and B. J. Skinner. Rocks and Rock Minerals. Wiley.

Geikie, A. The Founders of Geology. 2nd Ed. New York: Macmillan, 1905.

Frye, Keith. Modern Mineralogy. Prentice Hall.

Golden Guide to Rocks and Minerals.

Investigating Rocks: Recognizing Rock-Making Minerals. Filmstrip with cassette. EBE.

Koestler, Arthur. The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler. The Sleepwalkers, UP, 1960.

Mason, Anita. The World of Rocks and Minerals. Larousse.

Minerals. 16mm film. EBE. Part of the "Problem of Conservation Series."

Porter, Roy. The Making of Geology: Earth Science in Britain, 1660-1815. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP, 1977.

Rocks and Minerals. 16mm film. BFA.

Rocks and Their Minerals. 20 slides. SVE.

Rutherford, James. et al. Project Physics. "Kepler's Celestial Music." Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1975.
 


 
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