Uncover the mysteries in common metallic minerals! Learn to test, classify and identify metallic minerals. Includes 9 metallic mineral specimens, 1 magnifying glass, 1 nail, 1 streak plate and learning guide. Ages 8 and up.
There are thousands of distinct minerals out there and it can be hard to tell them apart, so it helps to have some things you can try out to get more information.
- A streak test (where you push your mineral down pretty hard while moving it across a porcelain tile) plus testing the hardness of your mineral can help identify it. The streak test shows what color the powdered form of the mineral really is.
- The Mohs hardness scale ranks minerals from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very hard). Talc is a 1, gypsum (like what drywall/sheetrock is made of) is a 2, diamond is a 10, and lots of things fall somewhere in the middle. One way to test the hardness of an unknown mineral is to compare it to an index mineral (one where you know what it is) and see which one can scratch the other one when you press hard, really trying to make a scratch. For this, just leaving a mark doesn’t count, it has to be a scratch that doesn’t rub off.
- Another way to test hardness is using some other known objects like a nail or a streak plate like we used for streak testing.Your fingernail has a hardness on the Mohs scale of about 2 to 2.5, so talc is REALLY soft.
As you test out and identify your metallic mineral specimens, you can also check out some other minerals at HMNS virtually with the Google Cultural Institute Collections . You may find a mineral or two that matches one in the kit!