Nature and Science Programs at Wonder Works


Rock Collection Cards
March 4, 2016, 5:35 am
Filed under: ESCONI, Rock Hunters

At both the 2016 Forest Park Public Library STEAM Family Fair and the ESCONI Juniors booth, there were several types of rock collections that young collectors could make for free. (Only a few collections were available at any time.)

Collectors could take the rocks and a card home in a plastic bag. Scroll down this page for photos of completed cars and more information about the rocks

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ROCKS FROM VOLCANOES: Pumice and Scoria are lava rocks that have lots of bubble holes. Apache Tears are solid lumps of Obsidian (volcanic glass).

RocksFromVolcanoesPHOTO

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ROCKS BY COLOR:  This collection card has rocks can be identified, in part, by their color:

Rock Hunters: Collection of rocks identified, in part, by color.

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

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The following collections were only available at ESCONI:

ROCKS ARE MADE OF MINERALS:  This card was designed to show that many types of rocks are made of one or more types of minerals. The example on this card, pegmatite, includes three types of minerals: white mica, pink feldspar, and quartz:

ESCONI-NewPegmatite

Click here to learn more about pegmatite.

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CLASSES OF ROCKS  The third type of rock collection included two examples for each of the three major classes of rock, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic:

ESCONI-3Classes

Click here to learn more about the three classes of rocks.

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ESCONI Juniors — Grab Bag Specimens
March 4, 2016, 5:30 am
Filed under: ESCONI, Rock Hunters

One of the free activities at the 2016 ESCONI Juniors booth was the ESCONI Grab Bag. When children arrived at the booth, they were given a brown paper lunch bag. They could select one each of eight different rock, mineral, fossil, and shell specimens to add to their bag. Photos and identification information about the Grab Bag specimens is located further down on this page. First, here are two photos that show what the Grab Bag table looked like in 2014:
ESCONI-2014-GrabBagSideView

ESCONI-2014-GrabBagClose

The rest of this page consists of close up photos, names, and additional information  about the specimens that were included in ESCONI Grab Bags at the 2015 and 2016 shows. For each type of specimen we give as much information as we have about it. However, because some donors did not provide much information about their specimens (or that information was misplaced during storage), we sometimes don’t know where specimens were found or, for fossils, how old they are.

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NOTE:  We will be adding more specimens to this page during the next few days, as we add more specimens to the Grab Bag activity. We will also add more information and links about these specimens as time allows, so be sure to check back here during the week after the ESCONI show.

MINERALS:

Specular Hematite, Michigan

SpecularHematiteMichigan

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. We are not sure where these crystals were found, although specimens like these can be found in Illinois:

ESCONI-Selenite

Hourglass Selenite Crystals, Oklahoma

Selenite is a crystal form of the mineral gypsum. These particular selenite crystals are a very special variety from the Salt Plains region of Oklahoma:

HourglassSeleniteOklahoma

The crystals grew inside the salty, sandy soil of this region, trapping sand inside the crystals. Because the sand often forms an hourglass-like shape inside the transparent crystals, this variety is called Hourglass Selenite. Growing crystals sometimes bumped into each other, forming interlocked shapes.  Click here to learn more about Hourglass Selenite.

Amethyst Chips

Amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral quartz:

ESCONI-Amethyst

Quartz Chips:

This chips were broken off of larger crystals of clear or slightly milky quartz:

ESCONI-QuartzFrags

Chalcedony

Chalcedony is a variety of the mineral, quartz, with crystals that are super small — too small to be seen without a powerful microscope. These pieces of chalcedony have been run through a rock tumbler, although only a few of them took a good polish:

ESCONI-Chalcedony

POLISHED ROCKS:

The small polished rocks at the Grab Bag table are a mix or mineral, rock, and fossil specimens:

ESCONI-PolishedRocks

GEODE FRAGMENTS:

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

GeodePiecesIllinois

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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ROCKS:

Apache Tears, Western United States

Apache tears are rounded lumps of obsidian, also known as volcanic glass:

ESCONI-ApacheTears

Pumice

Pumice is a type of volcanic rock. It formed from the same type of lava that makes obsidian, but it was very bubbly as it cooled:

ESCONI-Pumice

Coal

The coal in the photo below was broken off of rounded lumps of coal that washed up on a Lake Michigan beach:

ESCONI-Coal

The Grab Bag table also gave away small bags containing pieces of Illinois coal (at least while supplies lasted).

Taconite

Taconite is a processed form of iron ore. It is often transported by train through the Chicago area on its way from the Minnesota iron Ranges to steel mills on southern Lake Michigan, so you can find spilled taconite along local railroad tracks:

ESCONI-Taconite

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FOSSILS:

Fossil Sea Life from Illinois

The Grab Bag table included specimens of ancient sea animals from several localities. For instance, this sample from Ogelsby, Illinois, dates back to the Pennsylvanian period (about 300 million years ago) It includes mostly brachiopod shells, but two pieces of crinoid stem and two horn corals in the middle of the photo:

ESCONI-FossilSeaOglesby

The photo below shows more Pennsylvanian age brachiopods, but these are from the Lone Star Quarry in Illinois:

ESCONI-LoneStarBrachs

Petrified Wood

The Grab Bag table included specimens of petrified wood from the western United States. If you look closely, you can see the grain of the original wood preserved in rock:

ESCONI-PetrifiedWood

Fossil Shark and Ray Teeth from Africa

These fossil teeth were collected in Morocco. The shark teeth are on the left, and the three ray teeth are on the right:

ESCONI-AfricanShark

The sharks and rays lived near the end of dinosaur times, about 60 to 70 million years ago.

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SEA SHELLS:

The tiny sea shells at the Grab Bag table are a mix of modern day univalves (like snails) and bivalves (like clams). Many of them came from the Indian Ocean:

ESCONI-SeaShells



ESCONI Juniors — Spinner and Junior Sales Area
March 4, 2016, 5:30 am
Filed under: ESCONI, Rock Hunters

We used many of the same rock, mineral, and fossil specimens for both the ESCONI spinner and Juniors sales area.

For a quarter a spin (or five spins for a dollar), children could take their chances with the ESCONI spinner. Each spin won at least one mineral, rock, fossil, or shell specimen:

ESCONI-Spinner2015

The ESCONI Juniors sales tables included inexpensive rocks, minerals, fossils, and shells that were sold only to children and their teachers. The next photo includes examples of the specimens we had for sale.  If you click on the photo, you can see a much larger version of it, with better looks at the specimens and their labels:

ESCON-SalesCenter

For more photos of the Juniors sales tables, scroll down to the bottom of this page. If you click to enlarge those photos, you may be able to identify specimens that you bought at the ESCONI Juniors booth.

The next few photos identify some of these more common specimens available at the spinner and sales tables. For each type of specimen we give as much information as we have about it. Because some donors did not provide much information about their specimens (or that information was misplaced during storage), we sometimes don’t know where specimens were found or, for fossils, how old they are.

MINERALS

Peeled Sheets of Muscovite Mica

Muscovite is one of several types of the mineral, mica. It is sometimes called white mica. One of the amazing features of this mineral is that thin, flexible, transparent sheets of mica can be peeled off the thicker crystals. The peeled sheets of muscovite shown in the following photo were one of the specimens you could win at the ESCONI spinner:

ESCONI-MicaSheets

To learn more about Muscovite Mica, click here or click here.

Quartz Crystals

There were several sizes of quartz crystals available at the spinner and sales tables. Here are examples of the smallest and clearest crystals, which were a couple of centimeters long:

ESCONI-QuartzCrystals

You can find quartz crystals like these 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.

Copper Ore

The greenish and bluish coloring on the rocks in this photo are different minerals that contain the element, copper:

ESCONI-CopperOre

The rocks in the photo came from a copper mine, possibly in Arizona or Nevada. Because the rocks are rich in copper mineral, they can be used as an ore of copper. To learn more about copper ore and copper minerals, click here or click here.

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POLISHED ROCKS

Young collectors could win several types of polished rocks at the ESCONI spinner, or buy them at the sales table. (These polished rocks had all been run through rock tumblers to make them rounded and polished, so they were super smooth. To learn more about tumbling rocks, click here or click here.)

Here are two types of polished rocks that we had available this year.

Polished Beach Pebbles

These included common types of rocks; like granite and limestone, that can be found on Lake Michigan beaches. Here are some examples (mostly varieties of granite):

ESCONI-PolishedGranite

Polished Agates

Agate is a color-banded variety of quartz. (The crystals in agate are so small that it’s hard to see them even with a microscope.) Some of the agates at the Juniors table were collected on the shores of the Great Lakes (especially Lake Superior), but others came from the western United States, or other countries. Here are some examples:

ESCONI-PolishedAgate

To learn more about agates, click here. To learn more about Lake  Superior Agates, click here or click here.

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MORE PHOTOS OF THE ESCONI JUNIORS SALES TABLES

If you click on the photos below, you can enlarge them and perhaps identify specimens that you bought at the Juniors booth (or won at the spinner). The first two photos are mostly fossils, and the last photo is mostly rocks and minerals.

After looking at the photos, if you still cannot identify something you obtained at the ESCONI Juniors booth, email me a photo of the specimen, and I’ll see if I can tell you what it is. (I’m Eric Gyllenhaal at eric@saltthesandbox.org )

ESCONI-Sales-FarLeft

ESCONI-Sales-CenterLeft

ESCONI-Sales-FarRight



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:

MineralsCardPHOTO

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.

SpecularHematiteMichigan

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

ESCONI-Selenite

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.

ESCONI-Amethyst

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.

ESCONI-QuartzCrystals

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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.

RocksFromVolcanoesPHOTO

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!

ESCONI-Pumice

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.

ScoriaPHOTO

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.

ESCONI-ApacheTears

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

GeodePiecesIllinois

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: http://www.pact.9f.com/whats_new.html   We quadrupled all the ingredients and added 40 drops each of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to make it brown, like dirt.



Rock Hunters at Wonder Works: 10 a.m. to noon, August 3 and 4
August 2, 2012, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Rock Hunters

Rock Hunters takes place this Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Wonder Works.

You can touch and collect real rocks and minerals, sift rocks and minerals from sand, paint a smooth pebble, and dig rocks from the playdough quarry using toy trucks and wooden trains.  Every child (and any interested adult) gets to take home a collection of small rocks and minerals that they find and label. Also, we will have lots of children’s books about rocks for you read, including the ones recommended by Shira Belenke. You can go here to see Shira’s list of recommended books.

Some folks have asked about our dirt-colored playdough. Here’s a link to the recipe, which they call “Wolrd’s Best,” and they may be right: http://www.pact.9f.com/whats_new.html   We quadrupled all the ingredients and added 35 drops each of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to make it brown, like dirt.

Here are photos of the rock and mineral collections we’ve been making at Rock Hunters.  This collection has 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:

This collection has smaller rock and mineral samples that we sifted from the sand:

In August visitors also collected minerals and rocks from crushed pegmatite, a rock type quarried from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado:

Pegmatite is made up of large crystals of quartz, feldspar, and mica. Go here to read more about pegmatite. Granite is a lot like pegmatite, but it has much smaller crystals. Visitors could glue their mineral and rock samples to a card that helps you remember their names:

If you want to know more about where the rock and mineral samples came from, or if you want copies of the cards, you can always e-mail Eric at eric@saltthesandbox.org .



Rock Collections Made at Rock Hunters
June 29, 2012, 7:39 am
Filed under: Rock Hunters

Here are examples of the rock collections we made at the Rock Hunters program at Wonder Works. (June 29 and 30, 2012).

This collection has 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:

This collection has smaller rock and mineral samples that we sifted from the sand:

Children could glue the rocks onto the card or carry the rocks and cards home separately to use as a sorting activity.

If we discover any more types of rocks while making our collections, we will post photos of them here.



Recommended: Children’s Books about Rocks
June 28, 2012, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Rock Hunters

The Nature Works theme for this week in Rock Hunters, so here are Shira Belenke’s recommendations for children’s books about rocks. Shira is the former Director of Education at Wonder Works and is currently studying to be a librarian.  She’s helping out with Nature Works this summer by making lists of recommended books about the topic of the week.

Each review includes a link to that book’s entry in SWAN, a computer network that many Chicago-area libraries use to share books (including Oak Park Public Library).  If your local library is one of the 80 members of SWAN, you can follow the links below and put a hold on any of Shira’s recommended books.  Go here for more information about SWAN.

Bailey, J. (2006). The Rock Factory : a story about the rock cycle.  (M. Lilly, Illus.). Minneapolis, MN : Picture Window Books. Follow this link to SWAN.

The Rock Factory, explores the rock cycle and the creation and journey of one specific rock. 

As the title suggests, The Rock Factory explores the rock cycle and the creation and journey of one specific rock.  Jacqui Bailey tackles this complex topic by using easy to understand examples, such as comparing the earth’s crust to an eggshell.  Matthew Lilly’s exciting illustrations support the text while entertaining the reader.  This book includes an experiment, glossary, and a safe website for children to explore.  The pace of this book makes it a good first book for children interested in rocks.  Ages 4 and up.

Christian, P. (2000). If you find a rock. (B. H. Lember, Photo.). San Diego, CA : Harcourt.  Follow this link to SWAN.

There are many different rocks in the world, with many different uses.  These rocks do not always have to have a scientific name or even a commercial use. 

There are many different rocks in the world, with many different uses.   These rocks do not always have to have a scientific name or even a commercial use.   Peggy Christian waxes poetic in her book, If You Find a Rock, about these rocks.  Barbara Hirsch Lember uses a technique of hand-tinting black and white photos she captured of children using rocks, to illustrate this book.   Climbing, throwing, sitting, and kicking.  Rocks come with many uses.  This is a book for a person who likes rocks, but focuses on non-scientific qualities.  Ages 2 and up.

Gallup, T. (2007). Stone Crazy. Traverse City, MI: Mackinac Island Press.  Follow this link to SWAN.

A crazy little story about a person’s love of stones.

This crazy little book is a perfect first book about stones.  Tracy Gallup shares her love of stones in this short story.  She talks about their different shapes and the images that she sees in them.  Gallup illustrates the book with a doll created to complement the image she sees in the featured stone.  The small size and minimal text on each page makes this a great read-along book for the very young.

Gardner, R. (2008). Smashing science projects about Earth’s Rocks and Minerals. (T. Labaff, Illus.). Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.  Follow this link to SWAN.

This book contains 10 different activities (several using edible objects) to explore rocks and minerals, how they are formed and what they look like. 

Complex ideas are broken down into easy to produce experiments in Robert Gardner’s Smashing Science Projects about Earth’s Rocks and Minerals.  This book contains 10 different activities (several using edible objects) to explore rocks and minerals, how they are formed and what they look like.  At the beginning of the book, there is an explanation of how to execute these experiments safely and how to use them as a jumping off point to create your own experiments.  At the back of the book is a glossary, index, list of books for farther reading, and pertinent websites.  This is a great book for a child getting ready for their first science fair, or just looking for something to do on a rainy day.  Ages 6 and up.

Hurst, C. O. (2001). Rocks in his head. (J. Stevenson, Illus.). New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.  Follow this link to SWAN.

This is an inspirational story about a man’s love of rocks and the eventual fulfillment of a childhood dream.

Carol Otis Hurst has written an inspirational story about her father’s love of rocks and despite hardships, the eventual fulfillment of a childhood dream.  The watercolors James Stevenson used to illustrate this book help to capture the time-period perfectly.  Throughout the book, many characters would comment, sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely, on her father’s love of rocks.  His upbeat attitude is a good mind-set for any young person with a misunderstood passion. Ages 3 and up.

McLerran, A. (1991). Roxaboxen. (B. Cooney, Illus.). New York, NY : HarperCollins.  Follow this link to SWAN.

With nothing more than rocks, sticks, and imagination, a group of children create a town so wonderful it inspired a story.

With nothing more than rocks, sticks, and imagination, a group of children create a town so wonderful it inspired a story.  Alice McLerran’s Roxaboxen, is based on her mother’s memory of a town she helped create when she was a child.  This story tells of a time when children were content to play outside for hours with found material and might inspire children today to do the same thing.  Barbara Cooney tries to capture the magical quality of children’s imagination, while remaining truthful about the materials used.  This book works well as a read-along and a read-alone for anyone with an active imagination.  Ages 4 and up.

Milord, S. (2007). Pebble: a story about belonging. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Many of us wish to belong.  In this story, we follow a pebble’s journey to belong.

Almost everyone, at some point in their life, has wondered where they belong.  In Susan Milord’s compelling story, the one doing the wondering is a pebble.  Expressing feelings most children can relate to, the pebble feels both too small and too big.  The beautiful illustrations capture the pebble’s life while dreaming about belonging.  A wonderful story for any dreamer.  Ages 2 and up.

Murphy, S. (2000). Dave’s down-to-earth rock shop. (C. B. Smith, Illus.). New York, NY: HarperCollins.  Follow this link to SWAN.

With the help of Dave, a rock shop owner, Josh and his best friend Amy become rock-collecting experts.

Josh, an avid collector, receives a rock from Hawaii to start a new collection.  With the help of Dave, a rock shop owner, Josh and his best friend Amy become rock-collecting experts. Stuart Murphy inserts information about rocks into the story.  At the end of the book, parents can find ideas for games and questions pertaining to the story.  This is a good introduction to the scientific book genre for children who claim not to like heavy reading.  Ages 5 and up.

Note added by Eric: Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop is a real store that you can visit–in Evanston, Illinois, or on the web.

Tomecek, S. (2010). Jump into Science: Rocks & Minerals. (K. Poling, Illus.). Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Geologist Steve Tomecek, “Rock Star” of the science world, shares his knowledge of the Earth with children in Rocks & Minerals.

Geologist Steve Tomecek, “Rock Star” of the science world, shares his knowledge of the Earth with children in Rocks & Minerals.  Tomecek breaks down the information into manageable pieces for young minds to digest, while Kyle Polings’ easy to follow illustrations support the text.  The main topic covered in this book is how rocks form, along with the three main rock types.  Included at the end of the book are instructions for readers to learn how to make their own rock.  This book is a good read for children interested in becoming “rock stars” of the science world.  Ages 4 and up.

Wallace, N. E. (2009). Rocks! Rocks! Rocks! Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Children.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Buddy, a young rock lover, goes on a walk in a nature center with his mother.  Along the way, he learns about rocks.

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace’s book, Rocks! Rocks! Rocks!, is an informative book disguised as fiction.  Buddy, a young rock lover, goes on a walk in a nature center with his mother.  Along the way, he learns about rocks.  Wallace has created an interactive book with places for readers to become part of the story by counting what they see and learning how to pronounce long words along with Buddy.  The combination of photographs and paper images makes the illustrations as fun to look at as the story.  This is a good read-along or read alone for those with inquiring minds.  Ages 2 and up.