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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Mineral Dependence - Gemstones to Cellphones

In this video, Smithsonian geologist Dr. Michael Wise explains the incredible qualities of rocks called pegmatites, and our dependence on them for minerals


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. This show aired April 16, 2015.



National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science


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


Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ESS3-1Construct 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-ESS3-4Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

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