Australian Curriculum: Year 8 & 9

Maximum Students: 54 (2 groups of 27)

Program Times: Weekdays 10am – 2pm (or as negotiated)

Due to the nature of this program, at this stage we are unable to offer it as outreach.

Rocks, Minerals and Exploration presents an engaging and hands on approach to developing an awareness of the scientific field of Geology and an appreciation of the role of Geologists in industry and research. Students identify minerals using physical properties, apply a core sampling technique to survey a model exploration site and investigate the use of metal detectors as an exploration tool.

Students expand their knowledge of rocks to recognise that minerals are the building blocks of rocks and explore Earth Ed’s comprehensive mineral collection. They use the distinguishing characteristics of minerals; chemical composition, crystal shape, colour, luster, hardness, specific gravity and florescence; to identify a range of common minerals through the use of the Earth Ed Electronic Mineral Identification Key. The idea of rocks and minerals as a valuable earth resource is explored and simulated.

Students are introduced to the concept of core sampling and its role in scientific fieldwork and exploration. The application of core sampling in the exploration and mining industry is exemplified by a practicing geologist from a local gold mine. Students handle actual core samples from the gold mine and identify with how these are used to develop the 3D model of the target ore body within the mine. The students are granted ‘Exploration Rights’ to apply the core sample technique to a model exploration site in order to quantify the target ore present. They apply scientific reasoning and mathematical calculations to the tangible evidence in developing a cross sectional model of their exploration site. The limitations of the core sampling technique are considered, and ideas and recommendations to enhance their exploration site models are developed.

Using Minelab Metal Detectors, students complete an exploration activity where they utilise the detectors in their search for metals in the surrounding bushland at Earth Ed.

Key Learning Outcomes:


  • Model the molecular growth of crystals and identify the effect cooling rate can have on crystal size
  • Recognise the physical properties of minerals and how these can be used to identify various minerals.
  • Perform standard tests to identify an unknown mineral sample using an electronic dichotomous key.
  • Understand the role of Geology and Geologists within an industry and exploration context.
  • Appreciate core sampling of the Earth’s crust as a means of constructing knowledge for a variety of purposes.
  • Apply practical core sampling techniques in an investigation of a model exploration site. By the end of the activity students can:
    • Describe the steps in taking a core sample
    • Explain some of the features that can be observed in a core sample
    • Discuss the limitations of core sampling.

Learning Standards (Australian Curriculum).

Rocks, Minerals and Exploration demonstrates the learning addressed through Year 8 of the Australian curriculum standards. In particular, it addresses:

Science Understanding

Earth and Space Sciences

  • Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks contain minerals
  • Identifying a range of common rock types using a key based on observable physical and chemical properties
  • Recognising that rocks are a collection of different minerals
  • Recognising that some rocks and minerals, such as ores, provide valuable resources.

Chemical Sciences

  • Differences between elements, compounds and mixtures can be described at a particle level
  • Modelling the arrangement of particles in elements and compounds
  • Recognising that elements and simple compounds can be represented by symbols and formulas

Science as a human endeavour

  • Investigating how knowledge of the location and extraction of mineral resources relies on expertise from across the disciplines of science

Science inquiry skills

  • Explaining the strengths and limitations of representations such as physical models, diagrams and simulations in terms of the attributes of systems included or not included
  • Suggesting improvements to investigation methods that would improve the accuracy of the data recorded
  • Discussing investigation methods with others to share ideas about the quality of the inquiry process
  • Constructing tables, graphs, keys and models to represent relationships and trends in collected data