The Nittany Lion looks out from a 
Central Pennsylvania doubly terminated quartz crystal.  Artwork © John Passaneau.

Can you volunteer to help on March 23?
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Nittany Mineralogical Society, Inc.
State College, Pennsylvania

Minerals Junior Education Day
March 23, 2024
at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology,
Pleasant Gap, PA (same location as recent years).

Thank you to all the volunteers, donors and attendees who make each year's event run very smoothly.
       HOME PAGE        MORE LINKS     Our annual Minerals Junior Education Day is fun and rewarding for students in grades 1-8 and their parents. They will learn about minerals, crystals, gems, fossils, and earth science. At this event, kids get an empty egg carton when they check in, then go to a series of stations; these are the ones at the 2024 event:
- Gold panning by GPAA,
- Caves & Karst by Lincoln Caverns,
- Invertebrate fossils (shells),
- Lapidary - cutting gemstones,
- Grinding and polishing rock faces,
- Native Americans used rocks,
- Ultraviolet fluorescence (glow in the dark),
- Iron Ore and Iron Furnaces,
- Copper minerals and their properties,
- Radioactivity.
Students learn about the topic from a fun demonstration, activity or discussion, and receive a properly labeled specimen related to the topic, so they gather a whole collection in their egg carton. There is also a sales table with child-friendly prices (plus a few higher) - please bring cash! Everyone goes through at their own pace and goes to the stations in the order they choose. Allow at least an hour and a half or two hours in total.

Registration is limited so that we may be sure of having enough specimens for all of the students. We charge $6.00 per child to cover our expenses. Parents come along for free, and help keep things under control, but don't get the specimens.

Same location as recent years: - see our driving directions or CPI's Google Maps link.
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI Vo-Tech)
540 North Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap, PA 16823
Your payment goes to and the charge will
appear on your credit card statement as "PAYPAL *NITTANYMINE".

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The following articles are from past events.

See 2015 video
Video recording by James Sicree.

A crystal structure station at the 2008 event. Photo by R. Altamura.

The rest of this page is a report on events in past years.

In 2023, our first time since the pandemic, we had about 100 children and many parents come through, and all went well. Sincere thanks go to all who volunteered to help present the event. The stations for 2023 were:

  • Gold panning by GPAA,
  • Caves & Karst by Lincoln Caverns
  • Invertebrate fossils (shells)
  • Lapidary - cutting gemstones
  • Grinding and polishing spheres
  • Native Americans used rocks
  • Ultraviolet fluorescence (glow in the dark),
  • Copper
  • Stars and Stripes in Gemstones

The stations in 2019 were:

  • Invertebrate fossils (shells)
  • From coal to diamonds
  • Sedimentary rocks and petroleum
  • Cleavage and fracture
  • Caves & karst by Lincoln Caverns
  • War paint: the streak
  • Gold panning by GPAA
  • Ultraviolet fluorescence (glow in the dark)
  • Grinding and polishing rock spheres
  • Iron ore minerals & rocks and iron making
  • Meteorites

The stations in 2018 were:

  • invertebrate fossils (shells)
  • vertebrate fossils (bones)
  • petroleum drilling
  • crystal forms and structure
  • caves & karst by Lincoln Caverns
  • ultraviolet fluorescence (glow in the dark)
  • flame tests for mineral identification
  • gold panning by GPAA
  • grinding and polishing rock spheres
  • lapidary (cutting & polishing gemstones) and oolitic chert

In 2017 we had 195 students and their parents attend. The stations were:

  • gold panning by GPAA
  • lapidary (cutting and polishing gemstones)
  • grinding and polishing rock spheres
  • invertebrate fossils
  • vertebrate fossils (by PSU EMS Museum)
  • ultraviolet fluorescence (glow in the dark)
  • crystal structure, formation, and cleavage
  • constancy of crystal angles

Our 2016 Minerals Junior Education Day took place on Saturday, April 9, at the CPI vo-tech school in Pleasant Gap, PA. The snow came through overnight, providing a challenge especially for those volunteers driving in from the mountains to the west, but the event still went smoothly. There were 161 students attending, plus a similar number of parents, and about 40 volunteers. Among those volunteers were groups from The Bald Eagle Chapter of Gold Prospectors Association of America, Penn State’s student Geosciences Club, and The Penn State Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, as well as individual NMS members, families and friends, and non-members. NMS is extremely grateful to all the volunteers for their time and effort, and for communicating both knowledge and their passion for various aspects of science and our hobbies. Likewise we are grateful for many donations of materials for sales, station handouts, and food for snacks and lunch for the volunteers.
The stations were:

  • gem cutting & polishing (lapidary)
  • gold panning
  • grinding and polishing rock spheres
  • fluorescence with ultravioletlight
  • crystals and angles
  • electricity and magnetism
  • meteorites
  • vertebrate fossils
  • invertebrate (shell) fossils

The 2015 event was our 20th. The stations were:

  • Gold panning
  • Fossil shells
  • Bedrock geology of PA
  • Gemstones
  • Fluorescence
  • Meteorites
  • Fossil bones
  • Sphere making
  • Mineral cleavage & structure

The 2014 attendance was about 132 students (plus lots of family members). The stations were:

  • Bedrock Geology of PA
  • Gold Panning
  • Fluorescence
  • Fiber Optics in Minerals
  • Identifying Gems
  • Vertebrate Fossils
  • Invertebrate
  • Fossils

The 2013 attendance was about 117 students (plus lots of family members). The stations were:

  • Sphere grinding and polishing
  • Minerals versus rocks
  • Cleavage of minerals
  • Gold panning
  • Fluorescence
  • Fossils
  • Iron ore minerals and ironmaking

In 2012, we had 192 children and many parents come through, and things seemed to go smoothly, with lots of smiles. We do apologize for the unexpected charge for parking by Penn State, because of the big gymnastics meet at nearby Rec Hall. We believe we know how to coordinate with them to avoid that in the future. We hope to see you and your friends again next year! The stations for 2012 were:

  • Gold Panning
  • Natural Glass in Rocks
  • Grinding Spheres
  • Earthquakes
  • Fossil Shells
  • Fossil Bones
  • Fossil Plants & Petrified Wood
  • Varieties of Quartz

Our 2011 event went well, with about 254 children, plus their parents, in attendance. That's up from the last two years and met our target of 250, which allowed us to make good use of all the samples which we had prepared for handing out. NMS is very grateful to our co-sponsors, donors, and volunteers who make the event possible; I hope that I remembered all of them with thanks in the April 2011 NMS Bulletin. The stations for 2011 were:

  • Rocks versus minerals
  • Polarized light
  • Light in Gemstones: Iridescence
  • Piezeoelectricity
  • Fossil shells
  • Fossil bones
  • Gold panning
  • Crystal growth of silver

THANK YOU to all volunteers and attendees for making our Minerals Junior Education Day in 2010 a success! We had about 215 children participate. The stations for 2010 were:

  • Mineral hardness and gemstone carving
  • Light in Gemstones: Chatoyancy and Asterism
  • Iceland spar
  • Gold panning
  • Fossil shells (invertebrates)
  • Fossil bones (vertebrates)
  • Sphere grinding machine
  • Microscopic minerals

We thank our co-sponsors, volunteers, and everyone who was involved with making our 2009 Minerals Junior Education Day a success. We had a good time as 205 children, plus their parents, came through during the day to enjoy and learn. The stations for 2009 were:

  • Gemstone properties, particularly dispersion of light (the "fire" in faceted gems)
  • Iron ore and ironmaking, with local history
  • Gold panning
  • Fossil shells (invertebrates)
  • Fossil bones (vertebrates)
  • Crystal measurements
  • Crystal structure viewed in 3-D
  • Fiber optics in minerals
  •          plus a sales table at kid-friendly prices.

©2024 Nittany Mineralogical Society, Inc.          Page last modified 24 March 2024          webmaster