Kanaga Volcano in Alaska








Fairly Simple Mineral Identification

Fairly Simple Rock Identification

Easy (and Cheap) Crystal Growing

Look at What Nature has Done

The Trickle Down Effect



Terra Mobilis

Maps and Topography

Rock Crystallization

Oil Exploration

Cookie Mining

Porosity and Permeability

Groundwater Pollution Site Assessment

Bowen's Reaction Series

Gum Drop Crystal Models

Search-a-Word and Word Puzzles



John and Barbara Thomas

       The authors have been working with elementary school students for several years. All of these exercises started 30 years ago when John was asked to do geology with the National Wildlife Association Conservation Summits. In his spare time, he always worked with several groups in the youth program (as young a four years old) and showed them rocks. One outgrowth of this was the exercise on classification. John was invited into his daughters' fourth grade classrooms to talk about geology and instead of talking about it designed and brought in activities. He wrote up his activities in hopes that some of the teachers might try them on their own. Barbara has worked with after school programs in many of the school systems in Saratoga County NY. She wrote and gave the students work sheets to take home for the next meeting of the class. There are some exercises written by Karin Kirk. She has graciously let us reproduce them here.

       The exercises are designed for teachers with little or no geology background. We have tried to define our terms and provide background information for the teacher. We provide you with exercises and answer sheets. Be daring. Go ahead and try them.

       We have copyrighted the material. However, we do encourage you to copy anything that you want to use. The copyright is only to prevent other people from using the material in their own publications. We do ask that you tell us if you copy the material because we would like to know if anyone is using it. The material has been available and given out for free for several years. Few have told us they are copying it. This either means that no one is using it or it is being used so much that no one has time to write to us. We prefer to believe the latter. If you use the material, or just look at it, we would like to hear your comments. We are always looking for improvements and/or new ideas. If you have an exercise that could be included with these we would be glad to add it (them?).

       The exercises are listed in the Topics column to the left. Take a look through the material. Click a the link and choose an exercise.  Try it on your own. Adapt it. Have fun!

       We have written an exercise on fossil identification. Unfortunately, we do not know the source of the illustrations. Until we identify the source and get permission to use them, we cannot put the exercise on this web page. Check in the future and see if Fairly Simple Fossil Identification is included.

       Each of the exercises has associated with it an Adobe® Acrobat® PDF® file of the complete exercise and any associated pieces. You can print these out very simply by clicking on the PDF link. Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® will automatically open itself and the file. You can then print it out for your own use. If you do not have Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® on your computer, you can download a free copy by clicking on the link.

John J. & Barbara R. Thomas
8 Piping Rock Circle
Saratoga Springs NY 12866


Acknowledgement: Most of this material was written while John and Karin Kirk were working in the Geology Department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs NY. For years the college reproduced and mailed the workbooks at no cost to us. They also supported our expenses to do workshops with the material.