Shop Windows to the Universe

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather by Mike Smith tells the story of our storm warning system. See our online store book collection.
Tools for mineral identification include hand lenses (lower left), a penny for testing hardness (center), a streak plate (lower right), and an identification guidebook (top).
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe

Make Your Own Mineral Identification Kit!

Stick the following items into a small bag so that you can take them with you whenever you go hunting for minerals.

  1. Hand lens is helpful for identifying small mineral crystals or fossils.
  2. A small, white porcelain streak plate allows you to perform streak tests.
  3. A penny and a small glass plate are useful for testing hardness.
  4. Kits with samples of common minerals identified are available from science and nature stores; they help you identify minerals by comparing an unknown mineral to ones that are already identified.
  5. Printouts of the examples of crystal shapes from Windows to the Universe (or see if your book has similar pictures) allow you to identify crystal shapes of minerals.
  6. Include a field book or journal and a pencil to record where in the world you found your minerals.
  7. A guidebook for rocks and minerals with nice color pictures and language that you understand

Last modified March 13, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

TES XXVI, 3 fall 2010 The Fall 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on rocks and minerals, including articles on minerals and mining, the use of minerals in society, and rare earth minerals, and includes 3 posters!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Books to Help You Identify Minerals and Rocks!

Are you going out to search for rocks and minerals? How will you know what types you have found? Identification guidebooks for rocks and minerals can be very helpful. Pick one that has nice color pictures...more

Whatís That Mineral?

Each type of mineral is made of a unique group of elements that are arranged in a unique pattern. However, to identify minerals you donít need to look at the elements with sophisticated chemical tests....more

Quartz

Quartz is the second most common mineral in Earthís crust. It is a member of the quartz group, which includes less common minerals such as opal, crystobalite, and coesite. Silica (Si) and Oxygen (O) are...more

Mica Minerals

Mica minerals make some rocks sparkle! They are often found in igneous rocks such as granite and metamorphic rocks such as schist. They sparkle because light is reflected on their flat surfaces, which...more

Feldspar

Feldspar is the most common mineral in the Earthís crust, so you are very likely to find it in the rocks you collect! It is found it all of the three rock types, but is most common in intrusive igneous...more

Olivine

Olivine looks like little green crystals. It is typically found in some igneous and metamorphic rocks. Often the crystals are so small that you need to use your hand lens or magnifying glass to see them...more

Type of Minerals

So far, over 2000 minerals have been found, and every year new ones are discovered. This is a pretty overwhelming number of different types of minerals, however, you don't need to know them all to be...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA