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In this series of exercises, a kind of reductionist approach is used to direct the students attention to specific characteristics of a variety of ball and stick models. Through a series of leading questions, students must focus on specific relationships and must rationalize these relationships according to the fundamental principles of crystal chemistry and crystallography. In this way, students will simulate and replicate the kinds of questions we would normally ask in our professional careers as mineralogists. This approach also addresses other major recommendations from Project 2061: start with questions about nature, and concentrate on the collection and use of evidence. Other questions ask students to make connections to basic chemistry (e.g. bond types, relative strength of bonds, bond angles), determinative mineralogy (most likely place to develop cleavage), analytical techniques (e.g. preferred orientations for X-ray analysis), and so on. The final reflection questions will allow students to "discover" Pauling's Rules, a much more effective learning strategy than simple memorization of these rules (commonly with little or no understanding on the part of the students).
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