colorful pile of stones

If you find rocks interesting, you might like to try rock collecting to help you learn more about rocks and minerals. In fact, you could even learn facts about geology as you search around your (home) to add rocks to your collection. Geologists study the physical and chemical changes that led to the way Earth is today. Explore rocks, soil, sand, and water around you and you might even find unusual and rare rocks and minerals to collect.

Rocks

The Earth is made out of many different types of rocks and minerals. Rocks are continually evolving and changing; they don’t stay the same over long periods of time. As the wind blows or water runs over rocks, they become worn down and pieces of them blow or wash away to gather in other places. Scientists separate rocks into three different types, which are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Igneous rocks form when melted rock cools and becomes hard again. Sedimentary rocks have layers of sediment that build up over time to form the rocks. Metamorphic rocks are the rocks that form after high pressure or heat changes other rocks.

clear piece of pure quartz

Minerals

Minerals come from the ground. Different kinds of plants contain minerals, and these minerals come from the soil in which the plants grow. Water can also contain minerals, depending on where it is on or inside the earth. Minerals come in many different densities, colors, and levels of hardness. Minerals may be magnetic, or they can even be radioactive. Feldspar and quartz are the two most common minerals that occur in Earth’s crust.

Advice and Tips for Beginners

Anyone who enjoys exploring rocks might like to start a rock collection. Rock collectors are often called “rock hounds” because they search and scour the earth looking for different kinds of rocks to add to their collections. Finding unusual and rare rocks is a special thing for rock collectors. The first place you might search for rocks is right around your home. You might be surprised at the interesting rocks you can find right in your own backyard. Exploring quarries and construction sites can also be great for finding unusual rocks because machinery has often uncovered rocks that were buried deep below the surface. If you do visit a quarry or construction site, always go with an adult to make sure you stay safe. A geologist’s hammer and magnifying glass are helpful tools for a rock hound. Once you find rocks you want to take home, you might want to wrap them in tissue paper and label them with a marker so you remember where you found them. At home, wash your rocks gently, clean them with a soft brush, and store them in egg cartons or other shallow boxes.

 

magnifying glass over colorful paper

Geology

Geology is the study of Earth, including what it’s made of, how it was formed, and how it has changed over time. Scientists estimate that the world is more than 4.5 billion years old. Because Earth is made out of rocks, a big part of geology involves studying rocks. You could do a lot of work that is similar to the work done by geologists if you collect rocks. You might even use many of the same tools, such as a rock hammer, a magnifying glass, a compass, and a notebook for recording your finds.


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