Last week in my GK-12 classroom, the 8th graders were learning about minerals and their associated properties. As a (non-materials based) engineer, I probably hadn’t thought about Mohs scale or gypsum since I had learned about them when I was an 8th grader myself. And what I saw while working through the lab with the students as they were identifying different minerals, etc was exactly what I remembered my experience as a student to be… If there is no relevant context to relate to as new material is being taught, the information is easily forgotten. By the end of the class period, all of the students had a firm handle on sulfur and it’s properties — I’m guessing because we explained that it is used to make fireworks and matches… But as for the less common minerals, they were quickly forgotten or confused with one another. This year I look forward to the challenge of learning how to provide context (especially when I don’t have extensive knowledge on the subject) to facilitate better understanding of the material.

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