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Gem and Mineral Room, Natural History Museum (Hirst)

Reviewed by: Christine Hirst, West Ranch High School

Location: Natural History Museum
For directions and parking information click here.

Description:  Students will be visiting the Natural History Museum, Gem and Mineral Hall. This has many fantastic exhibits and halls, including the brand new dinosaur exhibit.There is also the opportunity to see real scientists in action at the dino lab.  

Cost: FREE Tuesdays!!! $9 with student ID, $12 for non-students 

  • A fledgling earth science teacher would benefit if they lacked content knowledge.  Many are forced into teaching this awesome subject and rely on worksheets and didactic book work, failing to see the tangibility of this science. 
  • An earth science student would benefit from seeing the many wonders the earth can create and the practical nature of earth science 
  • An earth science student would benefit from seeing the many local examples of earth history and geology, as well as the discoveries of gems, resources, and meteorites
  • students and teachers alike will benefit from seeing the importance of local and regional geologic processes and the influence over the local landscape

Science Concepts Addressed
  • Physical environments influencing the creation of rocks and minerals
  • physical characteristics and properties of minerals
  • comparative visual properties of minerals
  • properties of gems of economic interest
  • geographic relationships to geologic formations

    October 4, 2011

  • Role of California in formation of minerals
  • formation and discovery of meteorites
Study Guide:  Develop a study guide that could be used by students visiting this site. The study guide should be very clear and address specific science concepts.  The study guide should include the following:
Informational map: A simple map of the field trip site with key features labeled.
  • Tasks:  At least three tasks for the students to perform while at the field trip site. 
  • Observations:  A minimum of 10 observational (factula) questions that could only be answered hat can only be answered if the students has visited the site. 
  • Higher Order Questions / Activities:  A minimum of 3 higher order questions or activities that can only be answered if the students has visited the site. 
  • Photos:  Photos that will help orient the visitor to the site. Post photos on the photo album and use their urls to insert them here. 
  • Post the study guide as a pdf attachment to this website. Copy the text and include it in the study guide section.

YouTube Video

Enter the room and walk along the West wall (go to the right). 

Minerals of California
  • Find and identify 5 minerals from the Coast Ranges
Watch the short video at the end of that wall. 
  • What will the next generation of Geoscientists be faced with?
Find the meteorite section.  
  • What is unique about the origin of the L.A. meteorite?
  • How do scientists know?
  • Why was there a difference in the time of discovery and analysis?
Find the gold section.
  • What is the difference between 14k and 24k?
In the main mineral room:
  • Find three specimens of malachite and flourite. How are they different?  Where were they all found?
  • Find the display case in the center of the room, that has a large piece of smokey quartz at the center.
    • Which minerals have crystal form?
    • Which has a green mineral laid in a background of pink feldspar?
  • Find 10 of the most awesome minerals, all in different colors. List and describe them here.
1.                                                                                     6.
2.                                                                                     7.
3.                                                                                     8.
4.                                                                                     9.
5.                                                                                     10.
  • Find the display case that says "Crystals need room to grow." 
    • What is this specimen?
Find wall with characteristics of minerals. 
  • What is the mineral used for double refraction?
  • Which mineral has dull luster?
  • Name one mineral we did not look at in class that displays cleavage.
  • How many colors of streak are displayed?
  • Which mineral has the highest specific gravity?
Go past the gemstone room (check it out of course) and into the gemstone formation room in the back. Check out the maps on all four walls. For each mao, tell me which minerals or processes occur in or close to CA. 
  • names of maps:
    • Deposited by surface water
    • Formed from molten rock
    • Heat and pressure
    • Earth's mantle
  • Check out the display cases. 
    • Where is opal mined?
    • What is one gem found in Sri Lanka?
    • How are diamonds in Kimberlite tubes formed?
  • Go to the back of the room under the exit sign, and enter the gallery of gem crystals. 
    • What is the red specimen?

YouTube Video

Additional attractions:
Christine Hirst,
Oct 26, 2011, 9:00 PM