Vote: What do you think the name of the kids club should be?

Voice your opinion regarding the name of the kids club!  Votes are anonymous.  Results will be announced at the next kids meeting February 26th, 2015 at 6:30 P.M.

McRocks Christmas Exchange

A relatively small group, rockhounds are a close knit community. Whether paths have crossed while collecting, attending shows, or active participation in online forums connections are made on a national—and even international level.

McRocks is one of the most popular websites for rockhounds to frequent, with an active online forum. For over 7 years they have conducted an annual Christmas Rock Exchange.

Interested participants notify a volunteer. December 1st names are paired at random, after which packages are exchanged via mail. The only rule is to use a U.S.P.S. medium size flat rate box. Flat rate is $12.65. Participation offers opportunity to meet new people, grow your collection, and receive specimens from various places across the country.


If you would like to participate:

  • Sign up on the sheet, or email Carrie:
  • Provide $12.65 to cover shipping cost.
  • I.G.A.M.S. will provide specimens to fill box to be sent. {And knowing I.G.A.M.S., odds are likely kids will receive duplicate specimens to add to their own collections as well!}
  • An additional gathering will be held for kids participating in the exchange to pack their box to be sent.
  • Boxes will be delivered to the post office for you.
  • Help your child{ren} wait patiently for a package to arrive via snail mail.

Essentially all you have to do is sign up, pay, and show up to prepare the package. Notifying the coordinator, providing the specimens, and shipping the packages will be taken care of for you! Doesn’t get much easier than that!

If you have more than one child {and they don’t mind sharing}, they can share their exchange {saving on shipping cost}. Or if you want to split shipping costs, find someone to pair up with—and divide the contents. If this is the route you choose—you make the arrangements, not me. 😉



Is there a guarantee I will receive a package in exchange?

Short answer is: No.

Long answer: I know the coordinator for this exchange. In the several years she’s been involved, there has only been one occurrence where a participant did not receive a package in exchange. The problem was {overly} resolved. The coordinator sent a package to that participant. As did another participating member. {Apparently good things come to those who wait!!!}

Worst case scenario, I.G.A.M.S. will provide a box filled with specimens for the participant. {And will not duplicate specimens already given to the children, so their collection can grow in variety.}

Halloween: Spooky Science


Spooky Science

Have some Halloween fun with spooky science experiments.

Date: Wednesday October 29, 2014

Time: 5:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.

Location: Home of Jim and Nancy Rand

(29001 SE Ryan Road ·Blue Springs, MO 64014)

Bon Fire

Roast hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores.


Pumpkin bowling, Halloween cornhole, and bobbing for peeps.


Science gets spooky with self carving pumpkins, fire breathing frights, and puking pumpkins!

Field Trip Report: Geodefest 2014

April 2013 when we began our rock adventures, we tried to go to the Keokuk area for two months.  The weather didn’t agree.  Rains had an area bridge closed preventing access for Missourians.

September 26, 27, and 28th 2014 marked the tenth annual geodefest.  Participating locations included Amish, Fox River, Jacobsons, Pauls, Renards, Rods, St. Francisville, and Vickers.

St. Franciscille

I’ve been told in the mineral world “bigger is better”- and St. Francisville has a reputation for just that.  Word of a freshly plowed field and geodes scraped in the process allowing a peek inside, persuaded us to choose this location first.  This was our least favorite location to collect, as the larger geodes tend to be even more challenging to gage how hollow (or not) the center is.  Large- they all seem heavy.  Plus this area tends to have a thick rind, adding to the weight.  In hindsight, this spot would be better to visit last.  Since collecting here, I’ve been told that many visit this location with hopes of finding a coveted diamond dew drop geode.  They aren’t frequent, but do occur.

This is the only location you pay $0.55 per pound, $0.05 of which goes to the festival.  For large geodes this is a bit of a gamble- a larger investment into something unknown.


Pauls and Rods are both famed for the coveted snowball geode.  Another steep learning curve incurred.  These geodes will yield a heavier feel, and are more of a disk shape.  Entering the area you can head left or right.  Venture left, don’t cross under the bridge- or you’ll be faced with a shotgun and a trigger happy operator.  Not having a death wish, we went right, which allowed wandering as far as desired.  Walls to extract from were not too far from the entrance, and plenty of geodes could be found at the bottom of the creek.  The further you traveled, geodes increased in size.  Geodes here seemed to possess the most unusual shapes.  Bentley won first prize for a specimen collected here: “ugliest geode” in the children’s division.   With that said, this location does yield an abundance of geodes that are “aesthetically pleasing.”  We collected a few snowballs nestling some nice calcite’s.   When deciding what to keep, remember this location has the steepest exit to climb.


Upon immediate entry, there is a wall to the left.  This wall is said to hold some unique geodes within it.  The wall is a rock matrix, and extracting a bit more work than the typical digging geodes out of a dirt wall.  Unaware of this opportunity until we were about to leave, we didn’t personally collect from this wall – I did however, pick up a couple disgarded scraps to take a closer look at later.

As far as terrain is concerned, this location was ideal.  Getting wet was optional, and water wasn’t restrictive to accessing areas.  Walls to extract from were relatively short in height.  Geodes are abundant along the shores and bottom of the creek.  Several rattlers and water filled geodes were collected here, as well as sphalerite, dolomite, horn corals, and crinoid parts.


Collecting here will yield geodes similar to those at Fox River, as it’s out of the same river.  Entrance is steep, but short in distance.  Able to head either direction, it is advised that better results are to be had by those venturing to the left – the further the better.  Approximately one mile left through the river will land you in a shallow gravel bar that produced several rattlers and hydro filled geodes.  On the gravel bar slight digging will reveal a multitude of geodes lurking just beneath the surface.   There are a few walls to work sprinkled throughout the riverside banks.  In addition to geodes, there are also fantastic coral fossils here.

The Amish are incredibly helpful.  About half a mile in, they will load finds and gear into their trailer to haul back to the parking area.  For heavy loads, parts of the river are deep enough to ease weight in the buckets with aid from a bit of buoyancy.

The Amish really made the collecting experience seem more intimate, even though you’re collecting along side several strangers.  They had a tent set up and sold homemade goods- cinnamon rolls, bread, and pies.  They also had bottled water, soda, and homemade ice cream for sale.  All were very reasonable prices, and greatly appreciated after working hard.  Another added benefit to this location, was it allowed us to introduce the Amish culture to our child.


Mislead into thinking this location allowed getting wet as an option, we thought it a good choice preceding the long ride home.  I should have known better- I simply can’t stay clean.  Jeff however believes that if there’s a will, there’s a way.  I believe this too- just for finding things, not staying clean.

The day before, a boy had cracked open an impressive geode from this location.  I asked the specifics as to the specific whereabouts it had been found – just past the second train tracks.  If you want to stay dry, this is not the location for you.  (Unless you’re my husband, in which case follow the train tracks.)  Joining a couple that collected here the day before, it provides a decent amount of walking.  Half of which is through the river.  Exercise caution as the shale is deceptive – incredibly slippery from thin coatings of moss.

Just before the second train track, there is a short wall bearing geodes.  If you wade the slightly deeper waters under the bridge to the other side, the walls are prolific with geodes.  It’s evident few have collected past the second train tracks.  Hundreds of exposed rinds beckoning to be freed.  There is another creek that dumps into the one we were searching.  It too was bountiful, rewarding the trek there.

The couple we joined acquired a large chunk of sphalerite.  We achieved our mission with a geode similar to the one we laid eyes upon the day before.  For an easier return, follow the train tracks back.  Your ankles will thank you.

Blue and yellow barite crystal within a Keokuk geode.

Blue and yellow barite crystal inside a geode found by Bruce Stinemetz.

Considering it took us over a year to get here, my opinion is mixed.  On the one hand, they’re geodes!  These fabulous little packages waiting to be unwrapped and viewed by its finder, displaying its beauty millions of years in the making.  Few things compare to the thrill of peering into a geode for the first time.

On the other hand – collecting a few minerals before this trip, increases the degree of challenge experienced here.  Each location requires payment of $20 per bucket collected, highly influencing the degree of selectivity.  Motivation mandatory for lugging your finds back to your vehicle suffers drastically.  When collecting quartz, a quick glance down can supply the adrenaline needed to push through the pain and get to the truck.  Looking down at seemingly plain round shale rocks leaves plenty of room for doubt, wondering if efforts exerted are worthwhile.  Finally, there is no immediate gratification to be had.  The amazement when finding what you’re searching for, the confidence you’re focusing your efforts correctly- isn’t there.  Constant doubt and deliberation conquer all thoughts – especially when there is “no rhyme or reason” to the science of selecting a geode, as claimed by most.

One piece of information was disclosed to me upon our leaving the event, the reasoning for collecting from the wall. I’m all about hard work, but also believe in working smarter not harder in situations that allow it.  At each place there were geodes abound everywhere!  You couldn’t walk too far without nearly stepping on them – so why were people killing themselves trying to get geodes out of the walls?  Ignorant to the advantage, most of our collecting was picking up geodes laying around.  Why do people work so hard to extract these balls of rock from walls?  A few reasons.  One is odds of a secondary mineral occurrence contained within.  Two less exposure to possible damage from falling, getting tossed aside, etc.  Three is less chance of being weathered.  If a geode lands itself into a creek, and there is a slight crack in it water will find its way in.  This also contributes to lessoning the odds of a secondary mineral, as water can either dissolve it or destroy it to a point where it’s rotten.  Bottom line – hard work pays off when collecting geodes!

Collecting from a wall minimizes damage found within a geode.

Why you should collect from a wall.

Rotten geode contents.

Eroded contents of a geode found in water.


What is the outreach program all about?

In a nutshell, a club for kids who like science. But, it’s so much more than that!  This allows for kids to be with like minded peers, an atmosphere of contagious enthusiasm over shared interests, and exposure to a variety of things they may not otherwise get.


Who is this club for?

Any child interested in science regardless of age, school district, gender, etc.


When and where?

Meetings will be on the 4th Thursdays of each month from 6:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.

Meeting location will be in the Hall of Fame Room at Blue Springs South High School, unless notified otherwise.  Location is determined based on availability, and meeting activity.


What will the kids do at these meetings?

Unfortunately, an exact answer can’t be given due to tailoring activities based on the kids involved. Once membership applications have been turned in and an opportunity to meet with the kids, an itinerary will become more apparent.  Until then, you can expect your child to have fun through hands on activities and opportunities to explore unusual topics.


What do rocks have to do with science?

I.G.A.M.S. simply put is a “rock club.” If they are sponsoring activities, won’t they all have to be about rocks?  How interesting can rocks really be?  Won’t activities get boring?  Here’s the thing – without rocks, we would  have NOTHING!  Rocks are the basic building blocks for everything around us.  The focus of kids activities will be on science.  All kinds of science!  And no matter what the topic, it can be connected to rocks somehow…


How much?

Cost is free, thanks to I.G.A.M.S.! Why?  This is an outreach program to foster geological interest within the youth of our community.

I.G.A.M.S. takes several field trips throughout the year to a variety of places – rock collecting, museums, tours, and interaction with professionals in the field. Frequently the field trip will coordinate with the activity conducted with the kids club, to allow kids opportunity for further exploration of the topic.  Field trip participation requires an I.G.A.M.S. membership.


What are the benefits of an I.G.A.M.S. membership?

An I.G.A.M.S. membership is NOT required to participate in the outreach program.

Membership runs from January 1st through December 31st, annual dues are $15 per family.  In addition to field trip opportunities membership benefits include monthly meetings, informational programs, and social networking.

The membership fee essentially pays for itself through free admission to the biannual Kansas City Gem and Mineral Show. Through collaboration with other area earth science clubs hosting the Kansas City Gem and Mineral Show, proceeds from the show are awarded as scholarships to students entering a relevant area of study.


What’s the age range?

As long as the child is interested in rocks, age is irrelevant. A 5 year old that spends time avidly learning about rocks and an 85 year old new to the hobby don’t likely posses equivalent knowledge.  In this case the 5 year old likely knows more.  Regardless of who knows more, the important thing is the interest is shared.  As an adult, how often are your friends the same age as you?


Doesn’t age determine what activities the kids will do?

No. Interests of kids involved guide the direction of activities, not age.  The goal is to expose kids to things they won’t likely learn elsewhere, and information presented in unique and innovative ways.  Though some information may be too advanced for kids to fully comprehend the purpose isn’t for the kids to ‘learn,’ it’s to engage them.  Once a child is excited about something, they’ll want to learn more on their own.


What if we can’t attend on a regular basis?

That’s ok. Once a year is better than none.  Each child’s interest priorities are different.  If science is a second priority, just come as your schedule allows – we’ll let ya!


What if we have an activity right before, and would always be late?

That’s ok! Luckily we never lock the doors, so you can come late or leave early!


Why only an hour?

Because that is the length of time something can generally hold a child’s interest. Between time to settle in and preparation to leave, only around 45 minutes remains for the activity.  Though short it will provide a fast pace, leaving the kids hungry for more.


Where can I find out more information about the outreach program?

Contact Carrie Siems by phone or email.

Home: 816-427-5318 · Cell: 816-935-2111


Periodic Table of Elements

October 23


Periodic Table


The Elements by Theodore Gray

or view the pages for free here.



  • Interactive Periodic Table: Pieces of information are provided, with the goal to correctly guess the element and its location on the table.  Patterns should emerge after a few questions, providing a better understanding of how the periodic table is organized.  Developed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which has developed several online resources to support school curriculum.
  • Periodic Table Game: Start with basic familiarization of the table and conquer the levels, each one progressively more challenging.  Sheppard Software makes learning fun through games, more of which can be found on their free online site.









How to Collect: Hourglass Selenite

IGAMS Field Trip April 2014

Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Jet, Oklahoma

The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge is the only place in the world hourglass selenite crystals can be found.

Here are a few methods to dig for these unique treasures :

Independence Gem and Mineral Society field trip to Jet, Oklahoma.

IGAMS Pebble Pups field trip collecting selenite April 2014.


Tools Needed: Shovel, scoop or small pail, container for specimens.

  1. Find a spot located within the open collecting area.
  2. Dig a hole until you ‘hit’ water.
  3. Use a scoop or small pail to splash water along the perameter of the hole.
  4. Continue to irrigate the sides of the hole until crystals become exposed.
  5. Once crystals can be seen, continue to flood that area until crystals are freed.


  • Tried and true method.


  • Messy.
  • Time Consuming.

Boat bilge pump and jumper box aid in selenite collecting.

Collecting hourglass selenite with a boat bilge pump and jumper box.


Tools Needed: Shovel or hand trowel, boat bilge pump, jumper box, garden hose {length of your choice, 10′ is what we used}, container for specimens.

  1. Find an area located within the seasons open collecting area.
  2. Dig a hole until you’ve reached water.
  3. Allow water to seep in through the sand and fill the hole.
  4. Place boat bilge pump in the water.
  5. Turn jumper box on and use hose to irrigate edges of hole.
  6. As crystals become exposed remove them from their surroundings, or cup your hand just beneath the crystal and catch it as its flooded out.
  7. Turn jumper box off when not irrigating to conserve power.


  • Operates on the principle of ‘work smarter, not harder’.
  • Faster operation yielding more results in less time.
  • Allows multiple collectors to be simultaneously productive.


  • Access to a boat bilge pump and jumper box.
  • Battery can die.
  • Hose can clog, although this is easy to fix.  Place sump in a different hole with crystal clear water, and run clean water until system is no longer clogged.


Tools Needed: Shovel or hand trowel, container for specimens.

  1. Find a spot located within the open digging area.
  2. Use a shovel or hand trowel and dig a small, shallow hole.
  3. Move your fingers through the sand, feeling for crystals.
  4. Once crystals are located, place a hand trowel in the sand a few inches away from the crystal.  Pry hand trowel just enough to loosen ground around the crystal.
  5. Gently remove crystal from its surroundings.


  • Fewer crystals broken from digging initial hole.
  • Less mess to work in, aiding visual contact with the crystals.
  • Sand and clay remnants on crystals serve as natures packing material, protecting crystals for the journey home.
  • Increases ease for collector to follow ‘veins’.


  1. Most crystals were located within 4 inches of the surface.  {Even the larger ones}.  This is partially because the crystals in this area don’t remain in the water table so long they dissolve.
  2.  Most collecting occurs in pockets or veins – selenite is no exception to this.  Though not in the traditional sense of pockets and veins, it is similar in concept.  If you find large pretty crystals, follow their lead.  As you deplete the area you’re collecting in, dig paths a foot or so away from the hole.  If it yields nothing, dig another path away from the hole in a different direction.  Continue until you find more.  If entire area has been exhausted, move on.
  3. Know when to move on.  Even though the salt flats are pretty much a sure thing for specimen collecting, don’t remain in a pit that isn’t productive.  Find another spot.  It doesn’t even have to be too far away from where you are.  Pay attention to those around you.  If the quantity they have is far greater than the handful you’ve worked for – move on.
  4. Try out different areas.  They don’t even have to be that far from each other {not even 10 feet} to produce different crystals.  One location may have more crystals.  Another may produce larger crystals.  Another still could produce better clarity.  Or clusters.  If you’re having luck, stay until that area is exhausted.  If it’s becoming monotonous, change locations.
  5. Many advise of the increased chances of getting sunburned as a result of the salt flat reflecting the rays back up.  Use plenty of sunscreen.  Also know windburn is a possibility too.
  6. It is {very!} windy.  Imagine all your tools, boxes, etc. tumbling across the salt flats, then prepare accordingly.  Knowing what I know now, I would have brought multiple stakes to hold things in place.
  7. The salt plains don’t bother dogs as much as you’d think.  Actually, I think he rather enjoyed it.
  8. The water used in this area will crystallize rapidly.  It will crystallize on your legs, feet, arms, and any other it comes in contact with.  Do not brush it off your arms – it will rip your arm hair off.  Avoid that if possible. 😉
Jet, Oklahoma quick crystallization.

Quick crystallizing occurs anywhere you’ve been in contact with water. Don’t brush off, it will hurt! {Hose off instead.}


Pebble Pup Activity for May 2014

IGAMS Kids Program

Independence Gem and Mineral Pebble Pup Activities

Pebble Pup Agenda for May 15, 2014



Bring your favorite Selenite crystal to share with your peers.  If you were unable to attend the field trip to Jet, Oklahoma simply bring in the newest addition to your rock collection.



Take a look at carbon plant fossils as they appear in the field, and after preparation.  For those of you who haven’t had a chance to attend the annual H.M.S. Beagle Fossil Dig at Park University, this will help train your eyes on what to look for.



Learn techniques to clean and preserve carbon fossils found in a soft shale matrix, like those acquired through the H.M.S. Beagle Fossil Dig.  Plenty of specimens will be provided to experiment on, and take home.  Most tools will be provided, please bring an Xacto knife if you have one {along with various blade types}.



Take the opportunity to put your investigative skills to the test!  A project requiring a collaborative effort amongst Pebble Pups should prove to be both entertaining and mysterious.  Details will be disclosed at the end of the meeting.  For those of you unable to attend, you will receive notification via e-mail.