An Introduction to Minerals and Rocks


Cell phones, pharmaceuticals, 3D medical imaging technology, aircraft on-board computers.  What materials are required to support the technologies that we depend upon?  The answer is the minerals and rocks in our own backyards!  What are minerals and the rocks they comprise?  Where do we find them?  How do they form? How are they classified?  This course will teach students about naturally occurring Earth materials and their use throughout human history.  Students will employ fundamental aspects of the natural sciences to learn about the differences between minerals, rocks, and the different classes of each.


Philip C. LaPorta, Ph.D.

Class Details

Live Class: Blend of both live and self-instruction

Frequency: Daily (M-F)

Duration: 6 weeks, second session

Student Expectations:
Students will be expected to log onto Blackboard daily (Monday through Friday) to download class materials (PowerPoints, reading materials, assignments), upload assignments, and take online assessments.

Student Support:
Teacher is available via email or by appointment for online hang-outs or meetings. Students are expected to reach out to the instructor for consultation when needed.

Feedback will be provided on all class and homework assignments. Online multiple-choice quizzes and tests will be graded automatically by the computer, unless constructed response questions are utilized on exams, in which case feedback will be provided.

Blackboard will be the primary software used for demonstration/instruction. Office 365 (PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel) and Adobe Reader will be the primary programs used for demonstration and instruction. Students need some kind of office software. Any can be used to complete assignments; however, students are responsible for resolving and working out any accommodations necessary due to differences in the software or versions. For hang-outs or online meetings, students will need access to a working microphone; a webcam is preferred but is optional.

Students should be comfortable navigating basic computer functions.

For Ages:


Week 1
Monday: Mineral Classification
Tuesday: What Is a Mineral, and What Isn’t?/Everyday Use
Wednesday: Physical Properties of Minerals: Luster and Color
Thursday: Physical Properties of Minerals: Streak and Hardness
Friday: Weekly online quiz and homework submittals

Week 2
Monday: Physical Properties of Minerals: Crystal Habit and Breakage
Tuesday: Physical Properties of Minerals: Diagnostic Properties (magnetism, taste, odor, reaction to acids, elasticity)
Wednesday: Identifying Mineral Specimens
Thursday: Identifying Mineral Specimens
Friday: Weekly online quiz and homework submittals

Week 3
Monday: The Three Classes of Rocks
Tuesday: Clues about a Rock’s Origin from the Minerals It Contains
Wednesday: Identifying Minerals in Rocks
Thursday: Interpreting the Origin of Rocks
Friday: Weekly online quiz and homework submittals

Week 4
Monday: Interpreting the Cooling Histories of Igneous Rocks
Tuesday: Igneous Rock Classification and Identification
Wednesday: Origin and Evolution of Magmas
Thursday: Igneous Rocks and Plate Tectonics
Friday: Weekly online quiz and homework submittals

Week 5
Monday: Sediment Formation and Evolution
Tuesday: Basic Classes of Sedimentary Rocks
Wednesday: Sedimentary Rock Identification
Thursday: Interpreting Clastic Sedimentary Textures
Friday: Weekly online quiz and homework submittals

Week 6
Monday: Agents of Metamorphism
Tuesday: Metamorphic Rock Classification and Identification
Wednesday: What Can We Learn from a Metamorphic Rock
Thursday: Study Day
Friday: Final Exam