Rocks have been an interest for humans for a long time. They have been collected to be used for tools and were sought out for minerals and precious stones. Rock collecting today is a popular hobby that is shared by all ages. If you’ve got a curious little one at home who loves science, maybe rock collecting is something they would love to get into. This could very well lead to a career in geology!
How to Start Your Rock Collection
- Explore and find out what’s around you. What is easy to find in your area? A quick search online and then a trip around your neighbourhood (or even your backyard) can lead you to some buried treasure! When searching online, you can find out what kinds of rock are easy to find in your area.
- Get the right tools. A good beginner's toolkit could include
- Safety glasses
- A short-handled shovel
- A good rock hammer or pick
- A mallet
- A chisel
- A bucket
- Work gloves
- A good pair of boots
- Make a catalog where you can record your findings. Things to note are
- Depth (how deep you had to dig to find the rock specimen)
- Year it was found
- Get good reference materials to help you categorize correctly from your local library or online geology sites like geology.com.
- Display your findings. You can clean your rocks by rinsing them with water, and if necessary, use an old toothbrush for a gentle cleaning. When your rocks are ready for display you need to decide the best thing you’d like to put them in. You can use egg cartons, shoe boxes, or glass jars. If you really want to take it up a level there are cases with lids and compartments you can buy as well. Make sure you label them in your display to match your recordings in your catalog.
*An important thing to note, when searching in public areas such as parks or beaches, make sure you have permission to do so as some areas of land are protected. The same goes for private property.
Learn About the Different Kinds of Rock
Rocks can form in different ways so geologists (scientists who study rocks) put them into different categories.
This is the most common form of rock on earth. These form deep inside the earth where it’s very hot and are called magma. Once the magma cools it becomes igneous rocks.
Picture of Andesite from geology.com
Observe more examples of igneous rocks like andesite, obsidian, basalt, and granite.
These are a more complicated type of rock. Rocks get broken down into small pieces called sediment by rain, wind, and ice. Sediment settles over time in the lakes and oceans and builds up into layers. The minerals and water together glue the pieces together and sedimentary rock is formed. Sandstone is an example of sedimentary rock made from grains of sand. Limestone is another example of sedimentary rock, but its difference comes from the fact that it is formed from crushed shells or living animals.
Picture of Breccia from geology.com
Observe more sedimentary rock examples like breccia, sandstone, limestone, and shale.
Metamorphic rocks are made from extreme heat or pressure in the earth. Some igneous and sedimentary rocks are transformed to metamorphic rocks under the right amount of heat and pressure. For example, limestone turns to marble and sandstone turns to quartzite. If things get too hot, the rock will melt and become liquid rock called magma instead. This is how we get lava if it comes above the ground.
Be a Super Rock Collector!
Picture of Amphibolite from geology.com
Observe more examples of metamorphic rock like amphibolite, slate, gneiss, marble, and quartzite.
If you’re still hungry for more information, you can research if there are any local rock collecting clubs in your area that may have classes or workshops to join. Natural history museums may have displays of different rocks and gems as well.
A Digging Career
Do you love rock collecting? If you are a super rock collector, maybe you can find a job related to rock collecting. Here are some possibilities for those who love digging.
- Gemologist - one who studies precious stones
- Geologist - one who studies features of the Earth and its history
- Mineralogist - one who studies minerals
- Paleontologist - one who studies fossils
- Petrologist - one who studies rocks
- Prospector - one who searches for minerals
- Rock Hound - one who collects rocks or minerals
- Volcanologist - one who studies volcanoes
By picking up a hobby of rock collecting, it’s not only educational and fun to do but can lead to a future career! Let’s get digging!
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our Front Door page that has content on our monthly theme and links to all our content sections.