How have rocks and minerals touched your life today? Did you brush your teeth before you left the house? Well, there's calcium carbonate (chalk) in your toothpaste. Did you use any hot water this morning? It probably traveled to your faucet through copper pipes. Have you called anybody today? There are over 40 minerals in your telephone. Have you watched any TV? There are about 35 different minerals in a TV. How many minerals do you think are in your car? What about the pavement you drove on to get to school? Rocks and minerals are everywhere. Just remember: if it can't be grown, it has to be mined (or recycled)!
Inside the average six-room house:
- 39 tons of aggregate Foundation is made from limestone, clay, shale, gypsum and aggregate
- The exterior might be brick (made from sand and clay) or stone
- The insulation might be made of glass wool (silica, feldspar, and trona)
- Metal nails and screws hold the frame together
- The sewer pipes are made of clay or iron The electrical wiring is made of copper or aluminum
- Porcelain sinks and toilets are made from clay Plumbing fixtures are made of brass (copper and zinc)
- Door knobs, locks, hinges are made of brass or steel (copper, zinc, and iron ore)
- Mortgages are printed on paper made from wood or cloth fibers, but filled with clay to give a nice, smooth printing surface
- Glass is made from silica sand and limestone, both of which have to be mined.
While driving, consider the following:
- In the average 3,000-pound car there are 139 pounds of aluminum, 28 pounds of copper, and 20 pounds of zinc.
- Roads and highways are made from gravel, asphalt, and cement; all produced from minerals.
- Gold helps save lives on the nation's roads. More than 30 million automobiles are equipped with air bag systems that have gold-coated electrical contacts to ensure that the system will work flawlessly for the life of the car.
From energy, construction, and agriculture, to communications, transportation, and national defense, at home, work, or play, we all use or require minerals and mineral materials every day. How do we get minerals? Minerals must be mined from the ground, either by surface, underground, or drilling methods. Sand and gravel is usually mined in surface pits called quarries, gold is mined in surface pits, underground mines, and in streams and rivers.
- Instruct students to go home and make a list of every rock or mineral they find being used in their homes. If possible have students bring a sample of the things made from minerals from home. Also, they can visit a hardware store to collect samples of things made from minerals. How many can each student find?
- Ask students to bring their lists or items to class. Discuss with students the importance of rocks and minerals in our daily lives.
- Have the class display each item and allow them to touch and feel each object. Have them write down what each object is on the list or presented in class and tell what minerals are used to make it.
- If students do not know what minerals compose the object have the class hypothesize what forms the object: wood, plastic, vegetable, plant.
- Discuss with students what types of rocks and minerals are used in their school every day. Don't forget to consider the materials used outside of the building, such as those used in the playground.
Why is it important to be able to identify rocks and minerals? How are rocks and minerals obtained from the earth? Are there any mines or quarries in your area? If so, what materials are they obtaining from the earth? What are those materials used for? What are some of the machines they use to get rocks and minerals out of the ground? Will we ever run out of minerals and rocks to mine? What happens if there isn't anything left to take out of the earth?