877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Mineral Identification Lab Lesson Plan

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-GLG0201
Submitted by: Wayne Wheatley
Email: wwheatley@mediaone.net
School/University/Affiliation: Parcells Middle School, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Endorsed by: Poppy Hill
             Parcells Middle School, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI Date: October 7, 2000

Grade Level: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Science/Geology
  • Computer Science

Duration: Two 50-minute sessions Description: Using the Amethyst Galleries, Inc. mineral database web site, students search for minerals by entering the known characteristics, such as streak, hardness, color, etc. Since many minerals share similar traits, there can be more than one correct answer. Finally, using what they have learned about identifying minerals, the students are asked to identify the difference between gold and pyrite.

Goals: Students will gain a deeper understanding of how scientists identify minerals, based on the minerals’ characteristics.

Objectives: Students will be able to:
1. find a mineral which matches each set of traits correctly.
2. determine the difference between gold and pyrite.


Vocabulary: adamantine, cleavage, conchoidal, fracture, luster, metallic, Mohs scale, pyrite, resinous, streak, and hardness Procedure: Distribute the Mineral Identification worksheet and Vocabulary handout. Read the directions for the identification activity, and review the vocabulary terms. Have students log on to a computer and go to the web site ( http://mineral.galleries.com/default.htm ). Inform students to enter ONLY the words in italics to narrow their search. If a mineral matches all of the criteria (such as streak, hardness, etc.) then it is a correct match! Each set of characteristics can have one or more possible answers. Students should be able to search for the characteristics of a known mineral (gold and pyrite) in order to answer the last question.

Assessment: If the minerals match ALL of the physical characteristics listed, then the student was successful. Teachers may want to search the minerals ahead of time in order to make an answer key, but be careful of duplicate answers.

Useful Internet Resource:
* The Mineral Gallery – A service of Amethyst Galleries, Inc.
A collection of mineral descriptions and images, searchable by name, class, and keyword.