How to Make a Crystal
activity exercisesuggested grade levels: 4-6

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Minerals are made of many materials, many of which have a crystaline structure. This exercise is designed to help students understand crystaline structure by building a model of a crystal. They will also learn that many bits and pieces of crystaline minerals are joined together to form rock. This activity can be used as a way of introducing crystal and mineral structure to your students.

1. Students will become familiar with the structure of minerals.
2. Students will know what a crystal structure is.
3. Students will learn how to work together as a team.

Paper Scissors Tape

This activity can be used in conjunction with the geology section of the Digital Atlas of Idaho. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Geology, Basics, then on Diagrams. Have your students use the Digital Atlas to define what a mineral is and where minerals occur in nature. (All rocks are made up of minerals. A mineral is defined as a naturally occurring, crystalline solid with a specific chemical composition.)

1. Have students break up into groups of 3-4.
2. Hand each student a large piece of scratch paper and give each group scissors and tape.
3. Assign each group a three-dimensional shape (cube, pyramid, rectangle, etc.). If there is a group that wants a particular shape, let them select their own. Guide groups so that the class has as many different shapes as possible.
4. Encourage each group to construct at least six copies of their assigned shape using the materials above. Groups should make their six copies identical in proportion and size.
5. Suggest to each group that they put the shapes together to form the most compact structure that they possibly can. Instruct students that they may not change their shapes in order to do this.
6. Have groups show and describe their structures to the class. The larger shapes that they make from putting together the smaller shapes should generally resemble the smaller original shapes. Explain that this structure resembles crystal structure.

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the hanouts and printable materials.

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson plan by James Scannell and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: