Misconceptions
  1. Rocks and minerals are the same thing.
  2. All rocks are all the same.
  3. Minerals are not important to my life.
  4. All minerals are the same.
  5. Minerals don’t have specific names.
  6. Humans can make rocks and minerals.
  7. Any crystals that scratches glass is a diamond.
  8. Only "Pretty" rocks are crystals

Correct Information
A few simplified definitions to understand what a mineral is, what rocks are and why a crystal is a crystal.
Minerals: A mineral is an inorganic, naturally occurring, organized crystalline structure composed of a single chemical compound or element in a solid state. (i.e. NaCl or S)
Crystal: A crystal is an orderly arrangement of molecules formed because the component atoms and ions tend to aggregate together in certain specific patterns.
Rock: A rock is (generally) a natural solid composed of multiple crystals of one or more minerals. Although many rocks contain visible crystals of individual minerals, a rock itself does not have an overall crystalline structure.

  1. Minerals are the basic building blocks of rocks; rocks are made of different minerals and different percentages of each particular mineral.
  2. Rocks come in three basic forms/types. Each type undergoes different processes. Each types of rock contain different minerals and amounts of minerals.
    1. Igneous
    2. Metamorphic
    3. Sedimentary
  3. Minerals such and Halite (NaCl, Sodium Chloride)Sulfur (S) & Copper (Cu) to name a few, played important role in the development of life and still are an important part of sustaining current life.
  4. All minerals have similar features but are chemically different. Quartz (SiO2) the most common of the minerals on Earth's surface has many different varieties base on its chemical formula.
  5. Minerals have names and a lot of them
  6. Humans can alter minerals such as carbon to make diamonds through various different. This merely rearranges the structure of the carbon. Diamonds crystallizes in the Isometric system and graphite crystallizes in the hexagonal system. Both are still 100% carbon and both are still minerals.
  7. The hardness scale to identifying minerals is not truly complicated as you might think. The test for Relative Hardness of a sample is by scratching the surface of a crystal or cleavage face with an item of known hardness. The contents of a hardness kit a pocket knife or a construction nail, a copper penny, a piece of window glass and the use of your finger nail.
    1. Fingernail = 2.5
    2. Copper Penny = 3
    3. Pocket Knife = 5+
    4. Window Glass = 5.5
  8. While it is true that rystals are pleasant to look at, once again a rock is made of minerals but not all rock contain crystals and not all crystals are pleasant. (see below)barite-82.jpg


Origins of Misconceptions
While good definitive explanations for the misconception of rocks and minerals really do not seem to exist; a few ideas arose from over all Geoscience courses that may contribute to the problem.
  1. While Earth Sciences have been studied for centuries a lot of the theories involved are relatively new. The theory of plate tectonics was developed in early 20th century and was not widely excepted until in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
  2. The study of rocks typically gets over looked as a important science. Students only get basic Geology in middle school then move on to Biology, Chemistry, Zoology, or Physics.
  3. Geology tends to deal with "long time," even most adults have a difficult time contemplating 200,000 years, never mind 200 million years.
  4. Most of the Geoscience systems are large scale and are typically field work extensive processes. Classroom experiments that could assist in education are typically just basic.
  5. Usage of the terms in everyday life doesn't reflect scientific definition. Most people contribute minerals with vitamins and do not associate the minerals in the bottle with the rocks in the mountains.
  6. Publishers tend to oversimplify diagrams or pictures to cut cost in development of the book.
Rock Cycle.jpg


References
Beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu (2005) Common Misconceptions About Rocks and Minerals — Rocks and Minerals — Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. [online] Available at: http://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/rocks-and-minerals/common-misconceptions-about-rocks-and-minerals [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].
Gilbert, J. (2010) Inquiry Based Elementary Science Lesson. [online] Available at: http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/iblp/GuideV.cfm?rtype=SSLP&tsele1=3&tsele2=103&upid=3632 [Accessed: 19 Apr 2013].
King, Chris John Henry. "An analysis of misconceptions in science textbooks: Earth science in England and Wales." International Journal of Science Education 32.5 (2010): 565-601.
Personal.psu.edu (2008) Common Misconceptions about Rocks - DI Block Fall 08. [online] Available at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/ark5033/blogs/social_studies_in_the_elementary_classroom/2008/10/concept-interview-and-misconceptions.html [Accessed: 20 Apr 2013].
Roseburg.k12.or.us (1998) Misconceptions. [online] Available at: http://www.roseburg.k12.or.us/depts/educate/science/elementary/misconceptions.html [Accessed: 24 Apr 2013].
Webmineral.com (1974) Crystallography. [online] Available at: http://webmineral.com/crystall.shtml [Accessed: 24 Apr 2013].