WEBCAST: Mineral Dependence - Gemstones to Cellphones

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Smithsonian geologist Dr. Michael Wise. In the show, Mike explains the incredible qualities of rocks called pegmatites, and our dependence on them for minerals.

Smithsonian Science How: Mineral Dependence - Gemstones to Cellphones

Featuring Geologist Michael Wise

Meet Dr. Michael Wise, geologist at the National Museum of Natural History. He studies unusual rocks called pegmatites, which he considers to be "Nature’s Giant Treasure Chests." How would your life be different without these unique rocks? Pegmatites boast much larger mineral crystals than other rocks because of the special conditions under which they form. Take a closer look at garnets, tourmalines, and other minerals that come from pegmatites. Find out how you depend on pegmatites for everyday uses, such as operating your cellphone. 

Watch a recording of the April 16, 2015, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Mineral Dependence - Gemstones to Cellphones Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process
  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales
  • MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-1 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes
  • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems