The Quartermain Earth Science Centre offers a collection of hands-on workshops on Earth Science related subjects suitable from kindergarten to high-school age.  Whether planning a trip to the museum or preparing for a lesson in your classroom, our geological resources can be a useful tool.  Suggested duration for each activity is flexible.

The Earth Science Spin

Spin it to Earth Science: Geology is all around us and is connected to all the sciences.  Just completed a segment on Physics?  Chemistry?  Biology?  Geography? Environmental Sciences?  Why not spin it to Earth Science by including an activity on Geophysics, Geochemistry, Palaeontology, Physical Geography or Environmental Geology?  Let us help you.


Role of the Teacher:

  • Have students become familiar with basic terms before the workshop

  • Observe the students interest, approach and strategies on the subject matter

  • A short review of main concepts once back in the classroom

Role of the Student

  • Use authentic geological tools and samples

  • Observe and compare different materials

  • Make use of various modes of reasoning (deduction, comparison, classification)

  • Make use of knowledge independently and as part of a team

  • Review, reflect and ponder the subject matter

  • Relate the Earth Sciences to everyday life



Building Blocks of the Earth: Minerals and Rocks

Activities 1

World of Minerals

Students explore minerals and their properties from the collection of the Quartermain Earth Science Centre. They observe the properties of minerals through a series of inquiry-based activities. Students learn how to classify minerals and use an identification key. They discover the usefulness of minerals in daily life.

Duration: 60, 90 or 120 minutes

Academic Level: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8, high school

Procedure:  After a short lively interactive introduction, students work in small groups as they move through six stations on mineral properties using a self-guided activity sheet.  Each station involves short experiments exploring one or two mineral properties.  Students complete experiments using minerals and appropriate geological tools.  

The Rock Cycle

Round and Round the Rock Cycle.  Take a journey through the rocks that make up our Earth.  Students learn how to read rocks by exploring magmatic, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks from the Quartermain Earth Science Collections.  Students will explore surface and underwater volcanoes, intrusions, mineralized ore, sediment and fossils, and the dramatic metamorphic rocks - how these rocks harbour the secrets of their generation and evolution.

Duration: 60, 90 or 120 minutes

Academic Level: 3-5 and 6-8, high school

Procedure:  After a short lively interactive introduction, students work in small groups as they move through the rock cycle: making igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks!


Mining and Resources

Where does our stuff come from? Students learn about the mineral resources needed in every day life. Students define the mining cycle then ponder the requirements of developing a mine in Canada. Students explore mine operations and the driving economics involved.  

Duration: 90 or 120 minutes

Academic Level: 6-8, high school

Procedure:  After a short lively interactive introduction on the mineral resources and the mining cycle, students work in small groups and devise a plan to open a mine somewhere in Canada.   Groups are faced with the pressure to extract the ore while dealing with the environmental requirements and possible fines.  For longer segments, this activity can be combined with the "Mining in Space" activity.

Shake, Rattle and BOOM!  Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Volcano Activity

What is a volcano?  Why do they explode?  Why do so many people live near volcanoes?  Students can be a volcanologist!  Volcanoes are natural systems, and always have some element of unpredictability.  Any kind of volcano is capable of creating harmful or deadly phenomena, so understanding what a volcano can do is the first step in mitigating volcanic hazards.  

Duration: 90 or 180 minutes

Academic Level: 4-8, high school


Students explore the field of volcanology in a variety of ways: 1) learning to identify the various types of volcanoes (e.g. Cinder Cone, Composite and Shield) and their eruption styles, 2) understanding the various hazards involved, 3) assessing a volcanic island for building a new community.




Other Awesome Stuff!

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The Great Fossil Hunt

Paleontologists study fossils and the history of life on Earth.   Sedimentary rocks are formed particle by particle and bed by bed, stacked one on another. Like chapters of a book, these layers record the story of our planet: changing climates, mass extinctions and living organisms.  

Duration: 90 or 180 minutes

Academic Level: elementary, 6-8, high school


Students are paleontologists, embarking on an imaginary fossil hunt!  Either through story telling, or a physical journey through the department searching for fossiliferous outcrops, students build their interpretations based on their observations


Groundwater and Groundwater Pollution (Environmental Hydrogeochemistry)

What exactly is groundwater? A large portion of Canadians use this precious resource each day to supply needs to their homes.  Students can learn what groundwater is, where it is, how it moves, where it comes from, and what factors can affect it. Whether it is a natural disaster or surface contamination from human activities, the groundwater will be affected and we need to protect it.

Duration: 180 minutes (3 hours)

Academic Level: Grades 10-12

Procedure: Students will explore a miniature ground water model to identify how water moves, what different types of aquifers are made of, what the water table is, and general water cycle features. Students will also get the chance to test wells of various acidities to try and locate a source of contamination on the map of downtown Fredericton. During this exercise students identify mitigation and remediation strategies, what would happen if a natural disaster struck, the basic principles of Darcy’s law, and how to contour a map.  










Earthquake Activity

The world's earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain ranges tend to be concentrated in particular areas of the Earth. Why is this?

Students will explore the reason behind most earthquakes: Plate tectonics!  Plate tectonics tells us that the Earth's brittle outer layer (lithosphere) is broken into plates, and that these plates are constantly on the move. Where they interact, along their margins, important geological processes take place, such as the formation of mountain belts, earthquakes, and volcanoes!

Duration: 90, 120 or 180 minutes

Academic Level: 6-8, high school


Students test the various concepts that are involved before, during and post-earthquake, including ductile versus brittle deformation, liquefaction, stick-slip motion and the behaviors of various seismic waves.  Students are challenged to develop a model using real seismic data obtained from a region prone to earthquakes.

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Geological Engineering

Who are the people that build safe structures that will not fall down - even after an earthquake?  Or stabilize slopes so rocks will not fall on you or your home? Geological Engineers!  Geological Engineering is the application of geological knowledge to the siting, design, construction, operation and maintenance of civil engineering structures and facilities.  It is one of the rapidly growing fields of engineering reflecting society's developing interest in the stewardship of the environment, managing risk, and creating a safer world.

Duration: 90 or 120 minutes

Academic Level: 3-5, 6-8, high school


After a lively introduction on earthquakes, younger students are challenged to design a building that would sustain an earthquake.  Upper-level students learn about the dangers of landslides, then use their skills to protect a community located at the base of a slope in a cost-effective way.

Geological Time

How old are you and how we know how old you are?  Geologists have dated the Earth to be 4.54 Billion years old.  Curious about how geologists measure the age of the Earth, the age of the dinosaurs, or any other geological events along the way?  Students can take a geological journey back through time, exploring how geological time can be measured, organized and documented.

Duration: 90, 120 or 180 minutes

Academic Level: 6-8, high school


How do geologists measure relative versus absolute time? After a lively introduction, students embark on activities involving relative time, and then are introduced to radioactive decay and how geologists use this steady "clock" to measure time.






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What is our most precious resource on the planet? Is it gold? Diamonds? More precious than any other resource is our water! Did you know that most of our usable drinking water comes from the ground? It is a mostly non-renewable resource worth protecting for a sustainable future!

Duration: 90, 120 or 180 minutes

Academic Level: 3-5, 6-8, high school


Younger students play with scarves, sand and gravel to understand porosity and groundwater flow.  Upper level students are intoduced to hydrogeology by using groundwater models and other scientific tools to calculate porosity and permeability values for various materials, apply terminology related to groundwater (e.g. aquifer, aquitard, water table), and explore environmental concerns such as floods, drought and groundwater contamination.