Northeastern Section - 36th Annual Meeting (March 12-14, 2001)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-12:00 PM


BLOUNT, Alice M., OMYA, Inc, 61 Main Street, Proctor, VT 05765,

An effort to give grade-school students hands-on experience with minerals was begun in 1998 as a result of Earth Science Week activities. The mineral workshop, which was put together for that special week, was offered to teachers in their classrooms during the school year. The workshop gives students an opportunity to test mineral properties such as streak, hardness, luster, magnetism, reactivity to acid, etc. After testing, students are able to identify their minerals by comparing their work sheets with enlarged work sheets completed with the properties and the mineral name that are posted on the classroom wall. This method has proved to work better than identification tables, which are often difficult for children to understand. The minerals used are talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, quartz, feldspar, galena, magnetite and hematite.

Outreach programs need not be difficult to initiate, but one must consider (1) funding, (2) transporting of materials and (3) advertising. Hands-on workshops for elementary grades require simple materials so budgets can be low. This mineral workshop has cost ten dollars per class, and this includes leaving a set of minerals, testing tools and a packet of information in each classroom. The initial proposal to the company was to obtain supplies for ten visits and if that worked to do another increment of ten. This has resulted in funding for about twenty visits per school year for the last three years. Annual return visits to the same schools have been the norm. The mineral workshop supplies are housed in a hard-sided suitcase, foam padded, which permits single trip transport of all materials into the school and between classrooms. The availability of this workshop was announced only once by means of an Internet list server for teachers of the state. This got the message out even to those teachers not actively using the net. Requests from other regions of the state indicate that this outreach could easily be expanded.