What Is a Mineral?
Did you know that minerals are all around us? Minerals are the building blocks that make up rocks! They are the ores that we extract metals from to make electronics. They’re in the soils we need to grow the plants we eat for food. They’re even in our jewelry and makeup! But, what is a mineral?
In this video, Mineralogist Dr. Gabriela Farfan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History describes the five characteristics that all minerals have in common while sharing mineral specimens like the Berns Quartz from the museum's collection.
This video is designed for students in Grades 3-5. After watching this video, students will be able to identify the shared features of all minerals, recall mineral uses, and know that minerals are all around us.
This video complements the museum’s free school programs for students in grades 3 to 5:
- Identifying Minerals: An in-person school program where students classify a variety of minerals by testing their luster, streak, hardness, color, and magnetism.
- Rocks & Minerals: An online program where students virtually visit the Museum's Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals and, with a museum educator and their classmates, use problem-solving skills to unlock the mystery of different rocks, minerals, and their uses.
This video supports the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
Structure and Properties of Matter
- PS1A: Matter of any type can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see, but even then the matter still exists and can be detected by other means. A mode
- Crosscutting Concept: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity: natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large (5-PS1-1)
- Connections to Nature of Science: Science assumes consistent patterns in natural systems (5-PS1-2)
Videos and Webcasts
Learning StandardsNext Generation Science Standards
Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals