The Pennsylvania rock and mineral kit re-invented

Delano, Helen L., Hand, Kristen L., and Shaulis, James R., Pennsylvania Geological Survey, DCNR, 3240 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown, PA 17057.

The most popular product the Pennsylvania Geological Survey ever produced was its Rock and Mineral Kit. Tens of thousands of plastic boxes filled with samples were distributed free each year in the 1960's to school children and the general public. Increasing postage costs and the huge demand on staff time put an end to the product in the early 1970's. Because there have been frequent requests to revive the kits, a new collaborative business model was developed to allow us to once again get rocks into the hands of teachers and kids. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), members of the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA) and the Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists, working cooperatively, have released the “Pennsylvania Rock Hound Kit.” Pre-sized samples of 12 rocks mined and sold in Pennsylvania are provided by quarry operators; start-up funds for the first set of plastic boxes and labels came from DCNR and PDE; and lesson plans were developed by volunteer teachers working with PACA and PDE. Kits are sold by mail, over the counter, and resold by a variety of museum and educational shops. Proceeds from sale of kits are rolled back to provide continuing funds to sustain the project and support teacher workshops. Classroom kits of 30 samples of each rock type are available for those who wish to have students provide their own containers. Kits are packaged with a CD-ROM loaded with lesson plans and a variety of other geologic educational resources. We have held two workshops during which teachers assembled kits, learned about the rocks, were introduced to the lesson plans, and went on a local field trip to look at geology in the field. Workshop participants kept kits for their own use and assembled additional ones for later sale. Future outreach goals include developing a series of workshops at several sites around the state that would include a field trip and program customized to the local area.

Northeastern Section–41st Annual Meeting (March 21, 2006)