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The Bottom Line on Activities - Here on Top!

Activities are an important part of a lab experience because we traditionally understand lab activities as periods when students do things, typically working together. In an online environment, "activities" also require students to "do things", like accessing, organizing, and integrating online resources.

These activities connect the study of mineral identification with common manufactured materials, individual and national demand, and mineral commodities critical to the nation's highest-tech hardware.

Not all of these activities will be assigned. Check with your instructor for your assignments.

Instructors: Want to modify and adapt these activities for your use? No problem. Request from Scott Brande ( Word or other file formats of these documents for your use under the terms of the Creative Commons license on each document.

Bottom Line: Activities may be mixed and matched to construct assignments for an individual lab. Documents are available here for download, modification, and distribution via Creative Commons license. More activities to be added here in the future.

Errors/Suggestions: Contact Scott Brande (see footer).



Geology is a science with many domain-specific words, and to many students, a geologic vocabulary is a significant challenge, like that of learning a foreign language. A vocabulary assignment, especially assigned prior to lab, has significant pedagogic value in the following ways:

  • helps students prepare for labs
  • can be relatively short and undemanding because results are easily obtained
  • can be assigned a few points for low-stakes credit to promote completion

Online Dictionaries - Google

Numerous dictionaries are published online. Caution must be used, as for example, sources may not be authoritative, too general, or incomplete.

A generalized search procedure is to enter "define + term" into a browser search bar. A single term search via Google generally defaults to Google's dictionary licensed from Oxford University Press. Multi-term (phrase) searches may return results from other sources, including and

Wikipedia Glossary of Geology

Reasonable for general use, but limited in scope. Also, like Wikipedia, the Glossary may contain errors but public oversight allows continual correction. Important note: Wikipedia's Glossary of Geology is a dictionary-like subset of the full Wikipedia. A search on the Glossary returns an abbreviated meaning of the term, not a full-length article.

Vocabulary Activity

If a student learns as few as 10 words per week, by the end of the semester, the student's vocabulary is significantly increased, and the student earns cumulative credit.

Here is an example for the study of minerals.

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Mineral Resources Demand Activity

Background. Our economy depends in part on the flow of minerals from the earth through the industrial manufacturing capacity of the nation. This activity will introduce you to minerals in demand.

Mineral Resource Demand

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2019 Mineral Baby

"The Minerals Education Coalition (MEC) is the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Foundation’s designated program to develop and deliver accurate and timely K-12 education materials and activities and conduct public awareness outreach about mining and minerals." Each year the MEC publishes the "Mineral Baby" graphic that shows how much of our nation's minerals, metals and fuels, the average American will use during a lifetime.

The 2019 Mineral Baby is accessible at this link, and reproduced below.

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Mineral Uses Activity

Adapted from a unit of the InTeGrate module "Human's Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources".

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How Much for a Driveway? Activity

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Critical Minerals Activity

Commodities in US Navy SEAL Gear

  • The US is reliant on foreign suppliers for many of the critical minerals used in the manufacture of high tech US Navy SEAL gear.
  • This activity is designed to inform you about specific materials and their source countries on which the US relies.

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What Is A Concept Map?

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A Concept Map for Minerals

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A Concept Map for Lithium

  • Lithium is a critical element for the manufacture of batteries.
  • Lithium is mined from various rocks and extracted from salty brine.
  • This concept map activity takes only a few minutes to introduce some knowledge about lithium.

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