Rocks & Minerals

Welcome! You’re going to really enjoy lugging your overfilled 2-inch binder everywhere!

Want to learn live? Enroll in ScioCamp.
Course content was made from Rocks & Minerals lead faculty, including:
Rebecca Liebson, undergraduate at Stanford University, national Rocks & Minerals gold medalist from Solon HS Science Olympiad, and rocks test writer at Golden Gate Science Olympiad. Rebecca created ScioVirtual’s Rocks course and supervised the curricula of all ScioVirtual earth science courses.
Victoria Li, a NJ Science Olympiad state gold medalist in Rocks & Minerals. Victoria has taught Crime Busters and Disease Detectives at ScioVirtual.
Jean teaching rock identification through sharing her personal rock collection in ScioVirtual live Earth Science Fundamentals course.
Jean teaching rock identification through sharing her personal rock collection in ScioVirtual live Earth Science Fundamentals course.


This event relies heavily on how much work a competitor puts into their binder. No matter how godly you may be at ID, it would be almost impossible, as well as an unnecessary amount of work to memorize the facts for each individual specimen. The specific gravity of Hematite? I have absolutely no idea, but I know exactly where in my binder it’s located.

In addition to ID, competitors should know the vocabulary of both general and more specifically targeted geological terms well. You could write them down in your binder as well, but it’s just faster to know them on the go.


There are certain characteristics that are used to identify rocks and minerals —> make sure you know and can use them.

Mineral ID

Beyond learning the words, being able to identify the rocks and minerals from their pictures is crucial. There’s not much of a shortcut to this (unless you have a photographic memory) besides practice.

And here’s some practice with answers!


Most people prefer mineral ID cause ooohhh shiny! But knowing your rocks is just as important; they’re also harder to ID.

And finally, an extended ID practice with an answer key


I will be completely honest, being better at ID will almost always get you more points than knowing your geological principles well. So if you for some reason find yourself low on preparation time, focus more on ID and having a good binder.

Bowen’s Reaction Series

This and the rock cycle are two things that you should absolutely know no matter what. Luckily there are great videos and articles online. Pay special attention to the different categories of metamorphic and igneous rock formed and their composition.

Some other things that’ll be helpful to know include the types of metamorphism, types of of twinning, and the different charts to more specifically classify rocks based on composition.

Closing Remarks

And that’s it! These are some great resources to start off with for those that are just getting into the event, or maybe you want to hone your ID skills and geo knowledge. Be sure to make a thorough and usable binder then all you have to do is practice, practice, practice. Good luck!