Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Mineral Dependence: Gemstones to Cellphones


  • Title: Mineral Dependence – Gemstones to Cellphones
  • Air Date: April 16, 2015
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features Dr. Michael Wise, geologist at the National Museum of Natural History. He studies unusual rocks called pegmatites, which he considers to be "Nature’s Giant Treasure Chests." How would your life be different without these unique rocks? Pegmatites boast much larger mineral crystals than other rocks because of the special conditions under which they form. Take a closer look at garnets, tourmalines, and other minerals that come from pegmatites. Find out how you depend on pegmatites for everyday uses, such as operating your cellphone.

Teaching Resources

Geology of Gems and Minerals

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-1: Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
  • MS-ESS2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
  • MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-1: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
  • MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Earth Science