Crystal, Gem, and Fossil Fun

Last week a group of 6 to 8 year old eager-eyed rock sleuths came together for the Children’s Museum & Theatre’s first ever Crystal, Gem and Fossil camp. Having personally collected rocks (amateurly) for 25 years (my first were pebbles from my Massachusetts backyard!) I was thrilled to lead a week of activities all about the workings underground, prehistoric life and of course, shiny, luminous, precious mineralogical treasures. Here’s the week as a photo review.

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Where Science Meets Art Camp

August 11-15

We made a list of reasons why rocks are important and investigated objects that contain rocks and minerals (did you know a typical computer contains at least 65 different minerals?)

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We looked really closely at what sand and sediment actually is….and then we pretended to be sand granules at the bottom of a river bed.

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Eventually our sand granules buddied-up and started to stick together, turning into a sedimentary (layered, sandwich-like) rock. Once we were pushed a bit deeper into the earth we hit the metamorphic stage, and eventually deeper and we because igneous – we were SO hot that we turned into liquid, molten rock. When we couldn’t take the heat anymore…we had to pop out of the earth through a volcano! (Here we are “3…2…1…rupture!”)

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We looked at basalt and other types of volcanic rock (…and sometimes smelled them too).

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And of course, what would a science camp be without some backing soda and vinegar volcanoes?!

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To re-cap the different stages of the rock cycle, we made some rock treats, first starting with sediment (cheerios, rice crispies, chocolate chips….) we added some melted marshmallow during the Igneous stage and baked it all to be molten-chocolate-gooeyness.

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We used rock salt, Epsom salt and regular table salt (aka sodium chloride or halite) and talked about how wild it is that we eat minerals! And minerals are actually IN US! We counted the different faces of faceted gems and the vertices and created our own connect-the-dots gem painting. The salt we sprinkled on top absorbed some of the paint and made some pretty cool designs.

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We wrote and drew.

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We looked at crystals through a microscope.

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We cracked open our own geodes.

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We looked very closely and then sifted and cleaned them up, like real mineralogists.

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And had free play…once we even met the Portland fire fighters!

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Per their request we took a few ‘selfies’

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And we can’t wait to do it again! Thanks for a great week.

-Louisa