1) Begin by asking students write down the first thing that comes to mind when they think about diamonds. Then ask the students to write down any other information they know about diamonds. Lead a discussion that allows students to share their answers with each other. Record some of the answers and reactions to diamonds on the board.
2) Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to record some of the different things a diamond can evoke and symbolize, according to the video segment. PLAY Clip 1, “Diamonds Everywhere.” (Access the video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.) Lead a discussion that allows students to share their answers and compare them with their previous answers. Be sure to address the cultural and monetary value of diamonds.
1) Tell students that in this lesson, they are going to learn a little about where and how diamonds are formed, and what makes them both rare and valuable. Distribute the “Diamond Discussion” worksheet (PDF)(RTF) to your students.
2) Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to use their Diamond Discussion worksheet to record the conditions necessary for the formation of diamonds, as well as the composition of diamonds. (Students should complete Questions #1-2 on the organizer.) PLAY Clip 2, “Diamond Formation.” (Access the video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.) Lead a discussion about the extreme heat and pressure required for the formation of diamonds and their carbon composition. Emphasize that carbon is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. Carbon is a major component of graphite, limestone, marble, coal, petroleum and natural gas. Carbon occurs in all organic life and is important to many organic compounds.
3) Explain to students that graphite and diamonds are both examples of pure carbon atoms, but that they each have a different crystalline arrangement. Direct students to visit the following Web pages from the Virtual Museum of Minerals and Molecules:
Provide for the students a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, instructing students to manipulate the 3-D crystal structures, and read through the description of each mineral. Ask students to record a description of each structure on their Diamond Discussion worksheet, and provide information as to why the diamonds structure is so strong? (Students should complete Questions # 3-5 on the organizer.) See the Diamond Discussion worksheet Answer Key (PDF)(RTF) for suggested student responses. Lead a discussion with students about their answers, and how the arrangements of the atoms determine the physical properties of the mineral.
4) Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to determine where diamonds are formed. What kind of information can diamonds provide to geologists studying this location? (Students should complete Questions #6-7 on the organizer.) Play Clip 3, “Aging Diamonds.” (Access the video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.) Lead a discussion with students about their answers. Be sure to point out that while diamonds are formed deep beneath the surface of the earth, most other rocks are formed in the earth’s crust. This is what makes diamonds so important for geologists interested in learning about the deep interior of the earth.
5) Distribute pages 8-9 of the NY Earth Science Reference Tables (ESRT). Ask students read through the chart and be prepared to discuss what information is presented on the chart in pages 8-9. Direct students to the timeline along the left column of the page, and briefly allow students to share different elements of the chart. Ask students to mark a guess on the timeline as to the age of diamonds.
6) Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to determine what allows geologists to identify the age of a diamond, how old diamonds are, and what other information this resource offers, and record their answers on the Diamond Discussion worksheet. (Students should complete Questions #8-10 on the organizer.) Play Clip 4, “Inclusion Conclusions.” (Access the video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.) Lead a discussion with the students about their answers. Define “inclusions” with your students: “inclusions” are bits of surrounding minerals that are captured within diamonds. Discuss how inclusions allow geologists to determine the age of the diamond. Inclusions also offer geologists the opportunity to study materials that can only be formed deep within the inner core of the earth.
7) Ask students to look back at page 8 of the ESRT and indicate, using a different marking, the actual age of diamonds. (Diamonds are 2-3 billion years old!). Lead a discussion with your students about the inaccuracy or accuracy of their guesses, and what led them to make their decisions.
1) Remind students of the arrangement of atoms within a diamond and how this arrangement determines the physical properties of the mineral. Tell students that the arrangement of atoms within many other minerals also determines their physical properties.
2) Project the image of the silica tetrahedron, and explain that this arrangement of four oxygen atoms surrounding a silicon atom is the basic building block of many common minerals. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to describe the shape of each side of the silica structure, and count the sides (each side is an equilateral triangle, and there are 4 sides). Explain that a four-sided regular solid is called a tetrahedron (tetra = 4 and hedron = sides), that the oxide of silicon forms a silica tetrahedron, and they are arranged in very specific patterns in different silicate minerals.
3) Project the animation of silicate structures. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to describe the various patterns illustrated in the animation. Lead a discussion with the students about their answers (the atoms of the silicone oxygen tetrahedron bond with each other in single chains, double chains, sheets, and framework arrangements).
4) Distribute the envelopes/bags of previously prepared tetrahedron cut-outs and a glue stick to every group of 3 or 4 students. Demonstrate for the class how to fold the tetrahedron cut-out into a 3-dimensional tetrahedron and glue it together. Explain that these paper models illustrate the basic atomic structure of the elements that compose many common minerals. Using these models, students will construct examples of the crystalline structure for four different types of minerals. Instruct students to make as many 3-dimensional tetrahedrons as they can with the cutouts they have prepared.
5) Distribute the mineral kits of olivine, augite, hornblende, and muscovite to each group of students. Direct them to the following Web pages:
Augite (Single Chain)
Hornblende (Double Chain)
Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, instructing students to construct models of each structure as seen on the website. After constructing the model of each mineral and matching it with the sample rock, ask students to sketch it on the Tetrahedron worksheet (PDF)(RTF). Then, using the sample minerals, they should determine the physical properties of the sample and record that information on the Tetrahedron worksheet as well.
6) Lead a discussion with students about the different minerals they have just constructed and the various properties they possess. Allow students to share their drawings and models with each other.
Direct students to visit the Web sites about diamonds listed below. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to look for two examples of diamonds in folklore and superstitions, as well as examples of the role of diamonds in art. Students should record this information on their Diamond Discussion worksheet. Lead a discussion between students so they can share their answers (see Answer Key for possible answers). Remind students of what the discussed in the introductory activity and how the cultural significance of diamonds is as valuable and extensive as the scientific.
Diamonds: Historical Diamond Reference Section
Everything from diamond mining to diamond lore, this site offers fascinating look into the many facets of the world of diamonds.
Diamonds at the Paris Natural History Museum
This site explores the history of the diamond, the craft of diamond cutting, and the gem’s role in the art world.
Help students build a display of their models and drawings in the classroom.
Invite a local jeweler or gemologist to your classroom to discuss their career path and understanding of diamonds.