Nature and Science Programs at Wonder Works

Identifying Rocks and Minerals Collected at Wonder Works
November 19, 2015, 9:00 am
Filed under: Rock Hunters

Here are photos of three collection cards we made during the Collect Rocks and Minerals program at Wonder Works on Friday, November 20, 2015.

CARD 1: Rock Colors.  This collection card has six rocks you can identify, in part, by their color:

You can learn more about these rocks at Eric’s Neighborhood Rocks website. Here are direct links to five of the types of rocks shown above:

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 CARD 2: FOUR TYPES OF MINERALS. Here’s a photo of the card with four different minerals specimens:


Here are photos and additional information about each mineral:

Specular Hematite, Michigan: Specular Hematite is a type of iron ore made up of tiny, shiny, flattened crystals of hematite. The specimens passed out at Wonder Works came from the iron-mining region of Upper Michigan. Click here to learn more about the mineral hematite.


Selenite Crystals:  Selenite is the crystalline  form of the mineral gypsum. These crystals were found in Illinois


Amethyst Chips:  Amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral quartz. These chips were broken off of large crystals of amethyst as they were cleaned and prepared for sale.


Quartz Crystals:  You can find quartz crystals like the ones below in places like Hot Springs, Arkansas. To learn more about the mineral, quartz, click here. To learn more about the quartz crystals found in the Hot Springs, Arkansas, area, click here.


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CARD 3: ROCKS FROM VOLCANOES. Here’s a photo of the card with three different types of rocks that formed as melted rock (lava) from volcanoes cooled and hardened.


Here are photos and additional information about each mineral:

Pumice:  Pumice formed from a lighter-weight kind of lava–the same type of lava that makes volcanic glass (see below). The pumice-forming lava was very bubbly as it cooled. The pumice bubbles captured so much air that this rock floats on water!


Scoria:  Scoria forms from a darker and heavier sort of lava than pumice does. The lava that formed scoria was also pretty bubbly as it cooled, but it did not trap enough air to make the scoria float on water.


Apache Tears. Apache tears are rounded lumps of obsidian, also known as volcanic glass. They formed from the same type of lava that pumice did, but there were no bubbles in the lava that formed the Apache Tears.


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GEODE FRAGMENTS:  The pieces of broken geode in this photo came from specimens that were found in southwestern Illinois:


The two specimens on the left in this photo show the dull-looking outside of the geodes. The two pieces in the middle show the tiny quartz crystals that line the insides of most of the broken geodes. The geode piece on the lower right shows calcite crystals, which we found in a few geodes. The upper right specimen shows the coating of white clay found in some of our geodes.(This kind of clay is made of crystals so small that they are hard to see even with a microscope.)

Click here to learn more about the geodes found in Illinois.

Click here to learn about one place you can collect geodes in Illinois.

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HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH. Some folks have asked about our dirt-colored play dough. Here’s a link to the recipe, which they call “World’s Best,” and they may be right:   We quadrupled all the ingredients and added 40 drops each of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to make it brown, like dirt.