ROCK DETECTIVE’S INTRODUCTION TO KAOLIN FOR GRADES K-12
Presently, three mysteries centered on Kaolin are being developed. The finished product is one mystery designed for grades K-4, one for grades 5-8, and the last for grades 9-12. Geography of the south eastern United States is utilized to help students understand the differences between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, as well as residual and sedimentary clay deposits. Each module focuses on various aspects of Kaolin including alteration of feldspars to clay, change in structure during heating, economic uses, as well as a brief conceptual introduction to X-ray diffraction. Each mystery also is an introduction to other concepts, such as geologic time and elemental composition.
Groups of students who work with each Kaolin mystery will get something different out of it because of personal interests and approaches taken towards the mystery. After learning about Kaolin, students should have a firm grasp on how the mineral is formed, how the physical properties of the mineral make it ideal for many practical uses, and how structure changes with alteration. By introducing students to Earth science at an early age through inquiry-based curricula, they will be at an advantage while pursuing undergraduate studies because of the early acquisition of complicated concepts.