Educators Smithsonian Education
Minerals, Crystals and Gems : Stepping Stones into Inquiry
Lesson Plan 3

Mineral Scavenger Hunt


  • Recognize minerals in commonly used objects and products.
  • Recognize the ways in which minerals enhance our daily lives.


pencils and paper for additional notes


  • science
  • geology
  • technology


This lesson resembles an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. The focus of the hunt isn't the objects themselves, however, but rather on recognizing the minerals and mineral products contained within them. Give the Mineral Scavenger Hunt chart to students as a checklist for the objects they've found and where they have found them. Or, have them research what minerals are in different everyday objects, and then use the chart for comparison. Several of the Websites in the Resources section also describe everyday uses of minerals.

1. Ask the students to look around the classroom for objects that contain minerals or mineral products. Have them compile a list of all the objects they find and the name of minerals or mineral products they contain. They will find some answers listed in the product content label. In other cases they will have to make educated guesses. Typical examples are coins, cosmetics, lightbulbs, and computers. Almost anything that is not from a plant or an animal is a mineral or derived from a mineral. Everything that is metal, for example, is a mineral product.

2. Have students continue the search at home, a hardware store, or a pharmacy. Smithsonian staff readily found most of the items on the chart. In addition to checking labels, students can ask their parents or store employees for information. The goal is not to find an example of every single mineral, but rather for students to understand how widespread is the use of minerals and mineral products.

3. Throughout the project, class discussions can include the following questions:

  • What are some actual minerals, as opposed to mineral products, that people use frequently?
    salt, talc in baby powder, gravel.
  • What are some things the students used that day before coming to school that involved minerals or mineral products?
    drinking from a glass, eating cereal from a bowl with a spoon, showering with soap, using deodorant, putting on makeup, wearing jewelry, turning on a light, listening to a portable radio, using a computer, cleaning the cat litter, riding a bicycle or schoolbus to school, using coins
  • How would our lives be affected if we did not use minerals?

Required Materials

Mineral Scavenger Hunt Sheet

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