“Naturally occurring” is part of the definition for both rocks and minerals. To understand either definition, you need to understand what “naturally occurring” means. To do this, you will need:
As many of the items from the following list as you can:
- several mineral specimens
- several rock specimens
- coins, bone, teeth, sea shells, wood, nails, cloth, glass, feather, paper, water, salt, pepper, other objects made of different materials
Place all the objects on a flat surface where you can spread them out. Think of all the different ways that you could sort these objects into groups. You could sort them by color, by texture, by shape, or many other things. For this activity, we will sort them into two groups. In one group we will put the naturally occurring objects, and the other group will have all the man-made objects.
Naturally occurring means that the object was not made by a person. For example, in the lower left corner of the photo, you will see a piece of wood. Was that wood made in a factory? No, it grew as part of a tree. It is naturally occurring.
What about the feather at the top of the photo?
What about the dollar bill?
What about the wasp nest?
Some of the objects may take some thought.
For example, look at the clothes pin at the center of the photo.
If you have trouble deciding about something, ask yourself, “Was this made by a person?” If the answer is yes, then it goes into the pile of things that are not minerals. If the answer is no, then it goes into the group for naturally occurring. That is the first step towards deciding if that object fits the definition of a rock or a mineral.