Rock Presentations for School Students

Rock Presentations for School Students – Lorne Alcock, January 22, 2017

A CRLC Scientific Resource Committee was formed last year, and work was begun on various projects. One of the projects was to assemble a set of rocks and minerals, so that presentations could be made at schools, for students in Grades Three and Four, who study geology. I volunteered to assemble a rock set and go to schools if any requests came in.

I had done the same thing a few years ago, under auspices of APEGA (Association of Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta). I assumed that I still had most of my rocks from then. Wrong. We moved to a new house, and I did some “down-sizing” in order to cut the number of boxes rocks to be moved. Most of my school rock set had been given away as landfill.

I do still have some of the samples from that collection, and I have carved out more from my personal gem and gemstone collection. Last summer I went on a hunt for more samples from the field. I collected material from Cochrane, Airdrie, Canmore, Osoyoos, Merritt, and Whistler. And of course this project also presented me with an opportunity to visit and purchase a bunch more samples from various rock shops during my travels.

I have divided the samples into components, so that I can customize the samples that I take to the various schools. I have the following sets: Minerals and Soils, Igneous Intrusive set, Igneous Extrusive, Sedimentary, Metamorphic, Economic Minerals, Fossils, and a Hardness Test Set. I have attempted to get two samples of each rock type, so that they can be passed from student to student fairly quickly. That way, they get a chance to touch actual rocks.

So far, I have done ten school visits. I have four arranged for January 23rd in Cochrane, and another one requested for March in Calgary. After I presented at the January monthly meeting, I got leads on a few more schools, which I will follow up immediately.

The students are interested in the minerals, but the rocks less so. They love the fossils, especially the dinosaur bones, coprolite “dinosaur poop”, and insects in amber. And they always ask about diamonds and gold, which I include in the Economic Minerals.

Currently I am attempting to construct a model to demonstrate how the Rocky Mountains were formed. I have not demonstrated it in front of a class yet, so I will have to wait to see whether they can understand the concept. The students are well informed about rocks and minerals before I get to the classes, so they are getting some good instruction at school. What most schools lack is a good set of rock samples for the students to examine.

At the end of the presentations, each student picks out a small tumbled sample to keep. I promote both the Club and the upcoming Show (May 5-7, 2017)

If anyone has children in Grade Three or Four, or knows of a school that might be interested in a presentation, please let me know and I will contact that school directly.

Lorne Alcock

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