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Minerals – All About the Universal Building Blocks and Why They Matter

Team StoryWeavers|November 07, 2022, 16:29 IST|


It’s never too early for children to learn about minerals because they make up everything on the planet. They are vital components not just on the surface of the Earth but also in the vast expanse of the universe!

All that we use is made using minerals. Whether it’s the vehicles we see on the road or the pin that we use to sew a cloth. Even the crops that grow in the fields are largely dependent on minerals that they receive in the form of fertilisers.

From everyday household items like utensils to technological gadgets like computers and cell phones, everything has minerals in them. Hence it’s essential to teach young children about minerals, which is the cornerstone of survival.

What are minerals?

To put it simply, a mineral is any substance that occurs on the earth naturally. It’s not made by human beings. Hence it is not possible to produce/manufacture them. 

Furthermore, a mineral is not a liquid like water nor is it a gas like air. The occurrence of minerals is largely dependent on certain chemical and physical conditions in varied temperatures.

Few of the many methodologies of mineral formation are: 

  • Igneous or magmatic: When rocks heat up and melt these minerals are formed.
    Example: Iron and magnesium 
  • Sedimentary: Refers to minerals which result from the process of sedimentation.
    Example: Gypsum and Halite 
  • Metamorphic: Results from the change in the form or structure of an existing mineral.
    Example: Garnet and kyanite 
  • Hydrothermal: These minerals take shape when hot water percolates in the crust of the Earth and deposit minerals in the process.
    Example: Silver and gold 

What are the physical properties of minerals? 

  1. Hardness – This characteristic defines the virtue of how hard it is to scratch a mineral. The hardness level varies between minerals.
    Example: Diamond is a hard mineral while talc is one among the softer ones.
  2. Shape – A mineral’s characteristics are determined by its shape. They come in varied shapes which are studied at length during geometry lessons.
    Example: Diamond and fluorite are octahedral (8-shaped figures), calcite is in a rhombohedral shape, quartz is a six-sided pyramid shaped figure, halite and pyrite are cube-shaped minerals, and lepidolite and mice are six-sided platy figures.
  3. Luster – Shiny or non-shiny, this is also distinguishable between minerals.
    Example: Manganese, steel, titanium, copper and iron ore are minerals with a metallic luster. Limestone, quartz, beryl, fluorite and clay are examples of non-metallic minerals. 
  4. Colour – Each mineral has a distinct one of its own.
    Example: An emerald is green while sulphur on the other hand is yellow.

Types of minerals 

Minerals can be classified into two categories: 

  1. Metallic – These minerals are the ones which exhibit a shiny texture. But these minerals are further bifurcated into two: 
    1.  Ferrous minerals – Are the ones that have iron in it. 
    2. Non ferrous minerals – Are ones that do not have iron in them. 
  2.  Non-metallic – Are identified by their lack of shine. 

What are minerals used for?

The usage of minerals can be best demonstrated with examples. Look around and you will discover minerals are used in the following areas:

  • Gypsum is a mineral that is used to smoothen a wall before applying paint on it. 
  • To make an iron swing in a playground, magnetite is used. 
  • Jewellery is made using minerals like diamond, gold and emeralds
  • Copper finds its use both in pipes and coins
  • Silicon which comes from quartz is used as an essential part to make computers
  • Aluminium which comes from bauxite ore is a part of aeroplanes

Hope these insights come in handy to help your child better understand minerals. Do let us know their progress in their comments section. If there is any other scientific concept which you want simplified let us know.

About the Author

Coupling her love for children with a zeal for writing, Sonakshi pens down words to make even the smallest difference in the lives of young readers. She believes words are a powerful tool that, when used wisely, can bring about a positive difference. In her spare time, she likes to prop open a book, scribble poetry, or go out on long walks for any stroke of inspiration!

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