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March 17th, 2014 by Stinkhead

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

This weekend our county fairgrounds hosted the Fossil, Gem & Mineral show. My six year old absolutely loved the mineral exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum (culminating in the Hope Diamond), so I thought we’d give the show a try. I wasn’t sure if it would hold our collective interest for very long, but kids’ admission was free and my ticket was only $5 with an online coupon, so I figured it was low risk. We only live about ten minutes away, and low and behold we spent almost two and a half hours there. We sported matching pith helmets and had a blast! Check it out.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

Right when we got in, we signed up for a door prize and then checked out the Mini Mine where kids could dig through a big box of sand and pick their favorite rock. My son got a piece of pyrite. We were sure to take the little factsheet for this and other free samples we picked up. I am thinking that in a few years, my son may take a greater interest in collecting minerals, and I wanted to get his collection started on the right foot, as well as keep the educational aspects of this adventure intact.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

After getting a few freebies, we started on the scavenger hunt. There were just about ten questions that we had to fill in the blank. All of the facts were found within various exhibits we had to search through. My son loved this too. He helped me spot the clues and fill them in on the clipboard.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

This exhibit shows how plate tectonics works. It consists of a styrofoam, with, um chocolate(??) er clay on top, all floating on a shallow pan of water. These are separate pieces, but they’re placed closely together like a puzzle. Gently shake the table, and the vibration in the water causes the plates to tremor, illustrating the effects of an earthquake. This was a cool hands-on demonstration.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

We really liked the fluorescent tent some guy set up in the back of the exhibit hall. It was a 10X20 enclosure that was dark inside so you could see all of the glowing minerals under UV light. The gentleman had some that glowed differently under shortwave or longwave UV lights. It was pretty cool. Luckily I have experience shooting in odd lighting, and got some great photos. This guy had a great collection. This specimen below was particularly exciting, as it would give off some light even after the UV light was switched off.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

I love this shot. I love how all of the details you can see are coming from a non-traditional light source… that rock. A rock is lighting up my scene. That’s cool.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

Before we left, we tried out the free lapidary workshop. This is a method of polishing stones, using water and spinning, um, sharpening stones (grinding wheels?), set up a varying speeds. You start with an unpolished stone (seen above) and after about 15 minutes you could have something shiny and smooth. I liked showing my son how it was done, step by step, as there were a lot of polished stones on display and for sale, and now he could see how it gets from something you find in the earth, to something on a shelf in a store.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

We hit the dealer floor to see what goodies were for sale. I was hoping to come home with a reasonably priced fossil or two. We actually got a 500 million year old trilobite for about $4. We got some old shark’s teeth. We also got a polished Orthoceras discovered in Morroco, and a our own fluorescent stone. I told them we had a UV light for finding pee spots on the rug, so we wanted to get a stone that would react from that type of light, which is long wave. So now you know.

Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

I’m really glad that there were a lot of fossils in addition to the minerals. There’s a packet of wooly mammoth hair. We saw another pinch for sale, but it was about $60. This was certainly more educational than a comic book convention, if maybe not as thrilling. We had a great time! A lot more fun that I thought I would. Check out this website to see when there is a Mineral show in your neighborhood.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157642466124633″]

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Posted in 5&up, article, Boys, event, Girls, kids, review | Comments Off on Take your son or daughter to the Fossil, Gem & Mineral Show

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