Monday, March 18, 2013

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Other Hidden Treasures

I love homeschooling and the freedom that I have to educate as I see fit. In fact, I would call myself an eclectic homeschooler. I enjoy using a variety of methods to homeschool and learn. So, in our study of the earth ...

We have talked about gems and precious metals... yet there are still hidden gems beneath the dirt that are as precious as gold. They are elements that we have come to depend on on a daily basis. FUEL.

Fuels are used to operate machinery, run industries, and even heat our homes and cook our meals. Fuels are so very important that we would be lost without them. One of these important fuels is coal. Coal is called a fossil fuel. Do you know why? It is formed from decayed plant and animal matter. These remains would be considered fossils, but instead they have turned into coal. Thus, we have fossil fuels.

There are several different types of coal:
1) Hard coal is called anthracite. It is hard, black and shiny. It burns very slowly and cleanly. It is usually located deep within the earth, so it is difficult to mine.
2) Bituminous coal is the most common type of coal and is considered a soft coal. This coal is black and shiny but not hard. This is the major fuel used in power plants. It is plentiful and easy to mine, so it is very popular for use in industrial settings. When this coal is burned it produces coal tar which can be used in plastics, perfumes, and other products.
3) Sub-bituminous coal is the second most common type of coal. It is softer and more crumbly than bituminous coal. Yet, it is used for generating electricity.
4)Lignite coal is also called brown coal and it is the poorest quality. It usually gives off a stinky odor and lots of soot when it is burned. Yet with our modern pollution control measures it has made it possible to burn lignite in power plants in a clean manner.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hidden Treasures

With all this talk about rock... I am wondering where the gems come from? Gems typically come from igneous and metamorphic crystals.

Precious stones are rare and are highly prized by humans. These gems are usually prized for their hardness, their beautiful colors, and how they reflect light. Many precious stones are found in connection with volcanoes. In fact, diamonds are often found in deep tube like areas that are called diamond pipes. It is believed that the diamonds were formed from an extinct volcano.

Some of the more precious stones include: sapphire, ruby, emerald, red spinel, amethyst, tourmaline, lapis, turquoise, chalcedony and green jade. Among these beautiful precious stones are also precious metals. These rare metals are found within rocks, or sometimes by themselves. They can often be melted and formed into other object. These metals include gold, silver, platinum, and copper. Other metals can be made by mixing these metals together to form things such as bronze (made from copper and tin.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rock it...

Rocks... the hardest objects on earth. Yet, they were designed to be the foundational element on earth... the building blocks of earth. Rocks give us metal, building materials, and other useful things. Other rocks are beautiful and are crafted into costly jewelry and beautiful objects of art. There are many different types of rocks, but here are a few.

1) Igneous rocks are usually rocks that are formed from magma. These are hot rocks! There are two types of this kind of rocks extrusive igneous which are formed when magma is forced out of a volcano, and intrusive igneous which are formed while the magma cools underground.

2) Sedimentary rocks are formed by a layer of sand and minerals that were laid down by water and pressed together to form rocks. You see these layers often when you look at the side of an eroded mountain or even the Grand Canyon.

3)Metamorphic Rocks are formed by changing a rock from one type into a new kind of rock. Sometimes great heat or great pressure with transform rocks into other types of rock. Like the coal into a diamond.