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Web Hunt: All That Glitters

SuperScience Web Hunt

May 2006
Jim Webster is an Earth scientist at the American Museum  of Natural History. (Photo courtesy of AMNH)
Jim Webster is an Earth scientist at the American Museum of Natural History. (Photo courtesy of AMNH)

What do gold, diamonds, and jade have in common? Find out as you explore these and other natural treasures on this virtual trip to the American Museum of Natural History.

These handy sheets help Web Hunt explorers keep track of what they learn about gold:

A sparkling diamond. A shiny gold medal. A glossy jade statue. It’s easy to forget these objects formed miles below the Earth’s surface. They are all found in the bottom of rivers, lakes, and oceans as well as other places. These metals and gems are called “precious” because they are very rare and valuable. Gems are also called precious because they are hard and difficult to break or crack. Find out where different precious materials are found, and learn about some of their amazing properties!

1. Jim Webster is an Earth scientist at the American Museum of Natural History. He’s also in charge of a special exhibition about gold. Jim explains how gold forms in All That Glitters. Where does gold form in the Earth? Now check out the map “Gold Mining Around the World” and name three countries from different continents that produce gold.

2. Did you know that gold is the only metal that’s yellow in its pure, natural state? Explore Gold Properties that are highlighted in the GOLD exhibition. Explain why gold is used in astronauts’ helmets.

3. Did you know gold comes in different colors? Read the Language of Gold and name three different colors of gold. Explain what makes gold different colors. (Hint: “Alloy” means to mix metals together.)

4. Jade is another rare material from the Earth. But unlike gold, a precious metal, jade is a valuable rock. In fact, “jade” is actually a common name for two different rocks, jadeite and nephrite. George Harlow is an Earth scientist at the American Museum of Natural History who studies jade. Read about jade’s colors and patterns. Name three different colors of jade. What color is pure jade? What makes jade green?

5. George Harlow has studied jade all over the world. Long ago, people made tools from jade rock. Read about what makes jade special. Why is jade such a good material for tools?

6. Take a look at another treasure from the Earth, the Star of India. This amazing gem is on display at the American Museum of Natural History. What kind of precious stone is the “Star of India”? What color is it? When was it formed? Draw a picture of it.

7. Check out What’s This? to see a mystery photo from the American Museum of Natural History. It is an award plated with a precious metal. Can you guess what it is?

Bonus Question: Everyday Minerals
Many valuable materials come from the Earth – even if they’re not precious gems or metals. Click around Rocks in Your Cabinet and identify three everyday rocks and minerals found around your home.