Rock and Mineral Appreciation

By Bob Feurer


This unit is designed using the 4MAT Learning Styles Model of Instruction which provides a model for reaching learners in each of four defined learning styles. The teacher need not know anything about the Learning Styles Model to use the lesson effectively. The Model simply provides a template for instruction to insure that all the learners are effectively reached.

Objective of the Unit

This unit is designed to develop an appreciation for the roles that rocks and minerals play in their lives and also to develop an appreciation for the manner in which Native Americans understood and utilized rock and mineral properties in manufacturing tools and weapons prior to the development of metals and plastics. (The lesson is done with the understanding that metals are minerals but that few are used in their pure state as most metals used are alloys.) 

Activity 1 (R)

Objective: Elicit how students feel their lives would change without the technologies made available by metals and plastics.

Activity: Students will independently create a list of the ways they feel their lives would change without the benefits of having metals and plastics at their disposal.

Assessment: Students will produce a list of 10 or more lifestyle changes that would occur without the benefits of metals or plastics. 

Activity 2 (1L)

Objective: Students will create a larger common experience on the impact of metal and plastics on their lives.

Activity: Each student will share one of the lifestyle changes they have listed and asked why they believe that lifestyle change would occur without metal or plastic. A student volunteer or the teacher will record all the different responses given by the student on the board. Students will be encouraged to add any new or different ideas mentioned to the lists they have already created. Each student will continue to contribute until no new suggestions may be offered.

Students will then be asked to rank, independently, what they believe to be the five most important impacts of not having plastics or metals in their lives. These will be discussed as a large group.

Assessment: A list of large numbers of potential impacts will be created on the board. Students will have added to any new ones to their created list. Student participation in the discussion aspect will also aid in assessment. 

Activity 3 (2R)

Objective: Allow students to reflect on the properties of metals and plastics and the functions they provide and to brainstorm possible replacement materials.

Activity: In teams, students devise means or alternatives for replacing the functions of the metals/plastics deemed most important in the last activity. If the function cannot be replaced the teams should determine what permanent lifestyles changes would be necessary. Large group discussion will follow.

Assessment: Student teams will participate in a discussion about the conclusions they arrived at during their brainstorming session. 

Activity 4 (2L)

Objective: Introduce students to a culture that survived without the benefits of metal or plastic.

Activity: Provide students with a reading about the lifestyles of native Nebraskan cultures or a specific Native American tribe that exists or existed in Nebraska. Most Nebraska history books would have such and article. (It might also be a chance to work in an interdisciplinary unit with a social studies or history class.) Follow the reading with some discussion about how Native American cultures dealt without the use of refined metals or plastics.

This activity may be supplemented by available videos, more readings or, if available, a field trip to a history museum. It may also be possible for students or a local collector to share their artifacts with the class. Observations may be made about how rocks and minerals were used, what types of rocks and minerals were used, how they were shaped and other pertinent activities. Nebraska Geonotes, "The Occurrence of Flint in Nebraska", might be used to illustrate the occurrence of flint in Nebraska as it was a predominantly used material for weapons or tools.

Discuss the manufacture of tools and weapons. What skills would be needed to manufacture a useful device? If possible provide an article on flint knapping. One appeared in Nebraskaland Magazine a few years back. If possible, find a local knapper and schedule a demonstration. David Nixon, director of the Trailside Museum at Fort Robinson, may be of some help in finding a local person with knapping talent or may be able to recommend some references.

Assessment: Student participation in discussions will evidence levels of understanding and appreciation of the role minerals play in cultural development, 

Activity 5 (3L)

Objective: Reinforce student awareness of the role minerals played in the lifestyle of Native Americans.

Activity: Students will complete will complete a teacher created worksheet based upon the discussion and resources provided students in the last activity.

Assessment: Worksheets will be informally assessed by teacher and student during a classroom discussion. 

Activity 6 (3R)

Objective: Students will reflect and process upon the use of rocks and minerals in their lives and the lives of people in the past.

Activity: Students will select and complete one of the following projects: 

  1. The student will design a collage illustrating the use of rocks and minerals in the lives of people today. The student mar cut and paste using magazine photos, take photos of their own or combinations of the two, or use a VCR camera to create a video collage.
  2. Research and write a report about how Native Americans selected, formed and used rocks and minerals for tools and/or weapons.
  3. Research and write a report about rock and mineral mining, utilization or manufacture in NE.
  4. Research the occurrence of, and then create, a map to show the location of various mineral resources in the state.
  5. From your personal and classroom learning, write a discussion paper that explores the role the lack of a metal "culture" may have played in the demise of Native American cultures.
  6. Create a tool constructed of a rock or mineral and any associated, necessary support structures. Be able to discuss or illustrate how you determined which was the best material for the desired function, problems you had in making the device, limitations the materials placed on you and then demonstrate the device.
  7. Create a narrated video program about a sand/gravel pit operation by arranging an interview with the operator and then video the operation in action (if possible) or discuss how the pit machinery accomplishes its task as you film your video. [This activity could be a team of two students.]
  8. Write and illustrate a children's story book about how rocks and minerals are or were used by people.
  9. Discuss in writing what knowledge, expertise, science understanding and manual skill must have been necessary in a Native American tool/weapon maker.
  10. Devise a project of your own and present a written proposal to the teacher prior to beginning the project.

Assessment: Each student will successfully complete one of the projects above or will have created one of their own.

Activity 7 (4R)Objective: Allow small group sharing and suggestions to refine the student project content and delivery.

Activity : Students in their small groups, will share their work. They will be given instructions to offer positive feedback on the development of one another's work.

Assessment: Students will be observed while sharing their work in small groups.

Activity 8 (4L)

Objective: Students will expand the greater understanding of the group by sharing their learning and experience in completing their projects.

Activity: Each student will share their learning with the entire group. This will be accomplished in the most appropriate format for each of the projects.

Assessment: Sharing the project with the large group will me the minimum standard of 70%. A subjective analysis (20%) by the teacher will be conducted for a portion of the grade and a student self assessment sheet (10%) will also be used to determine the final grade.