These brief video segments can be used alone or in combination, to introduce a topic or to spark discussion among your students. The video segments can be adapted for any grade level – suggested focus questions are provided. Stream the video segments from the playlist below, or scroll to the bottom of the page to find downloadable QuickTime versions of the videos. These videos are also used in the lesson plan Performing Well Under Pressure (grades 9-12).
Diamonds are minerals that are valued for their durability, beauty, and rarity. They form deep in the earth under conditions of extreme heat and pressure, and are brought to the surface of the earth by the forces of volcanism and weathering. Generally, diamonds – and the rocks they’re found in – are very old. Studying diamonds, therefore, can help scientists reconstruct the processes that were central to the formation of the earth itself.
The physical properties of a diamond are determined more by the crystal structure of the diamond than by its composition – consider that diamond and graphite, despite their vastly different physical properties, are both composed of pure carbon. Every mineral is characterized a particular type of crystalline structure that is largely responsible for its physical properties.
These excerpts from the NATURE episode “Diamonds” demonstrate the characteristics of these rare gems, and explore the value they hold for scientists and the general public.
Suggested Focus Questions:
Clip 1: Diamonds Everywhere
- What do diamonds symbolize in our society?
- Explain the saying “a diamond is forever.” What are the different meanings of this phrase?
Clip 2: Diamond Formation
- What materials and conditions are essential to the formation of a diamond?
- How do you think artificial diamonds might be manufactured? What engineering problems might be involved in doing so?
Clip 3: Aging Diamonds?
- How do diamonds get to the surface of the earth?
- Why are diamonds valuable to scientists?
- How do scientists determine the age of rocks and minerals? Why is it that “a diamond never grows old”?
Clip 4: Inclusion Conclusions
- How hard are diamonds?
- What is meant by the term “inclusion”?’
- What can scientists determine by studying diamonds and their inclusions?
Downloadable QuickTime versions of the video segments:
(Note: To downoad a video, right-click on the video title and click “Save Link As…” or “Save Target As…” On a Mac, press the CTRL key and simultaneously click the mouse, then save the link.)
Clip 1, “Diamonds Everywhere”
Clip 2, “Diamond Formation”
Clip 3, “Aging Diamonds?”
Clip 4, “Inclusion Conclusions”