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).
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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.

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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