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PRE-RACE MISSION

OVERVIEW

Whether in a creek, pond, or the ocean you can find an abundance of really cool rocks. Rockhounding, or rock collecting, can be very rewarding because you don’t have to dig around in the dirt. Rocks can easily be spotted with the naked eye and are often clear of dust and debris thanks to the shallow running water. Most minerals or gemstones that form through geological processes can wash down into streambeds due to mechanical or chemical weathering.

Common types of rocks found in creeks are quartz crystals, chert, agate, jasper, petrified wood, amethyst, and garnet, depending on the geology of the area. Many commercial gemstones are found in streams and rivers, but even ordinary rocks, worn smooth by tumbling water, have an appeal of their own.

Creeks provide a valuable sample of the types of rocks common to the area and give clues to potential rockhounding sites in the ground higher up along the banks. Fresh rains bring fresh deposits from upstream, so if you find a good creek, you can return to it many times and find new treasures.

Make your own sifting pan to collect rocks then create a rock tumbler to shine them!

SIFTING PAN

​MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Aluminum pie pans

  • Nails

  • Scissors

DIRECTIONS

  1. The process is simple to make your own sifting pan with an

    ​aluminum pie pan!

  2. Use different size nails, drill bits, or scissors to punch holes in the
    bottom of your aluminum pan. 

  3. Go to a creek bed, pond, or shore.

  4. Using your sifting pan, scoop up dirt/sand and rocks. 

  5. Gently shake the pan under running water to remove small sand and
    dirt particles. 

  6. Repeat until rocks are left. 

  7. Continue the process until you have found a number of rocks that you think are cool!

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rock tumbler

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A homemade rock tumbler is also a creative way of making polished rocks and stones! Rock tumblers are instruments that smoothen the surfaces of rocks. Usually, they are manufactured by companies, and use a motor assembly to help rotate the tumbler. In these, you do not have to rotate the tumbler manually, as the motor does the work. The rock tumbler you'll make below does not use a motor but instead simulates the natural way in which rocks smoothen.

​MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Rocks of your choice

  • Container (coffee tin or any plastic container that is cylindrical in shape and has a tight-
    fitting lid. Do not use glass containers, as they can break when the rocks tumble)

  • Water

  • Sand

DIRECTIONS

  1. Once you have decided the container you will use to build the rock tumbler, fill half of it with sand. This sand will cause the abrasion that will help smoothen the rocks. Initially, use coarse sand. Later, when the rocks start getting smoother, you can use fine sand.

  2. Now, pour water in the container so that 2/3rd of the container is filled. Mix water and sand thoroughly to form a slurry. This slurry is called grit.

  3. Put the rocks of your choice in this slurry and cover the container with its lid. Use the same or similar types of rocks in your rock tumbler. Before adding the rocks, identify their type. It is difficult to identify the type after tumbling starts. If the lid is loose, use duct tapes to cover the mouth of the container.

  4. Your homemade rock tumbler is ready. Once you cover the container with a lid, shake and roll the tumbler in all possible directions. Do this tumbling frequently for several days if desired. 

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