Lesson plan

Crystals and rocks as a Natural Resource

Grow crystals and look at crystals that we use as a natural resource.
Science content
Earth/Space: Rock cycle, Earth Materials, Natural resources (5)
Earth/Space: Sustainable practices, Interconnectedness (2, 5, 7)
Activities in this lesson
  • materials in the activities
  • quartz crystal
  • bornite, chalcopyrite or other copper ore

Start the Borax crystal activity, to check again at the end of the lesson.

Introduce Natural Resources:
Natural resources are materials that are all around us in our natural world. They are valuable for us, for making energy or providing food or making things.
Make a list if natural resources - start with water, rocks/minerals, forests, oceans, sunlight.
Some natural resources are renewable - they are replaced as we use them e.g water, sunlight, wind, forests. (Although they are renewable we still need to be careful how fast we use them.)
Some natural resources are non-renewable - they are not replaced faster than we use them e.g. fossil fuels (coal and oil) and rocks (used to make metals, or precious gemstones).

Rocks and crystals as a natural resource:
Crystals can be gemstones, quartz crystal is used in precision medical instruments, metals from rocks are used in electronics, some metals are needed for our health (e.g. iron), rocks / ores for making buildings and roads.

Epsom salt painting activity
First show the Epsom salt solution - Salts and minerals dissolve in water, like this. They flow inside the Earth. When they cool crystals form.
Epsom salt mineral is in this warm water. Paint on your paper.
Tiny crystals appear. When crystals form fast, they are tiny. When they take longer they are larger.
Crystals form inside the Earth in the same way: water containing minerals evaporates, leaving crystals.
The longer they take to form, the larger they are.

Show students a Quartz crystal. This crystal is used to make watches and precision medical instruments.

Show Bornite (copper ore)
This rock contains copper. Copper is used in electronics.

Check borax crystals to find crystals starting to grow, then leave them overnight for more growth before drying and hanging.

Grades taught
Gr 4
Gr 5