How
to Make a Crystal

**suggested
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.

**Objectives:**

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.

**Materials:**

Paper | Scissors | Tape |

**Procedure:**

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.)

Activity

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.

Diagrams

**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:

759.01.02

769.01

772.01.02

782.01

785.01.02

795.01