Monday, November 15, 2010

Hidden Treasures: Splitting Geodes

Have you ever just picked up a rock and thought, "Gee. I wonder what's inside there?" Well, when my kids found out they could split open a Geode, they were absolutely thrilled. Especially Charlotte. She's my little rock hound. Every time we go to the beach, she comes home with a huge bag of rocks. We recently joined the Penokee Mountain School ( the local Homeschool Co-op) back in early October. The kids have been waiting so patiently for the arrival of this day. Last Friday we had a local guest speaker from Marengo, Kathie Snyder, an avid rock hound, come share her buckets of knowledge (and Geodes) with our children. When I say buckets, I mean that each child was able to choose one Geode from three different states. I wish I could remember which Geode came from where. These were mostly from southern states and each had their own look about them. In this photo, the Geodes appear to be very round. When you pick them up, they seemed pretty light.The kids seemed to have the most luck with these Geodes called "Coconut Geodes" from Mexico.This bucket had what I would describe as "bubbly shaped" geodes called "Thundereggs" from New Mexico. They felt pretty dense and ended up to be hard to split.This bucket looked like it was filled with "mini brains." Also very dense and very hard to split. These came from Arizona and Tennessee.We walked away with from this experience learning how to choose a good Geode. One must pick up many and compare them to one another. Looks can be deceiving. You must go by weight. The bigger and lighter, the more space there may be inside. You want light and hollow, as they split easier. We found through trial and error, that small and dense were really hard to break. Mind you, this is done with a chisel and a hammer. And safety goggles of course. For those who could not break theirs open with the chisel, there was the option to take the Geode out to the sidewalk and just hit it with the hammer. If you have to do this, chances are you'll end up with more pieces. So, here are some samples of Charlotte and Finn pounding away.

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

Not only did she bring her Geodes, but a tray full of Agates, which this family is particularly fond of. She offered one to everyone.There was a table of her beautiful rock collection. Sometimes, I take pictures and I don't even know what I'm taking a picture of. I just know they are pretty and sparkly. That big thing in the front is a petrified cactus. (One of the kids told me.)I think this is a fossil of some kind.Ok. Look at this colorful beauty. So vivid!I've never seen anything quite like it. So, later I asked Kathie what kind of rock could have so much color in it. Well folks, it is NOT a rock. This is a slice from the floor of a car factory. Yes, this is layers upon layers of car paint.

Another station she had set up were animal skulls. This was a very popular display.It was a spectacular day. I have to give Kathie a ton of credit for her patience, bravery and very steady hand. She split Geodes with about twenty kids and walked away with all limbs attached.

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