RockCheck app: The educational tool for the identification of rocks.

Fig. 1 – Application RockCheck is an educational tool for the identification of rocks.

Almost every kid and many adults are fascinated by rocks. They collect them from trips and keep them at home without knowing anything about them and the stories they tell us. Overall low awareness about the importance and use of rocks in our economy and culture is also neglected in most of the formal educational school systems throughout the world. Pupils and students in primary and secondary schools learn about rocks several times, but due to the overcrowding of curricula and content fragmentation, they usually do not gain sufficient understanding of the topic. To strengthen the awareness and increase the knowledge about rocks, raw materials and geology in general, we made the digital application RockCheck (original version KamenCheck in Slovenian language).

RockCheck application is a digital educational tool that contributes to the improvement and quality of teaching and learning of rocks and geological contents within natural science subjects in the formal school system. The content is based on the standard classifications of rocks and adapted to the needs of pupils, students, teachers, and the general public. The educational tool RockCheck is more interesting for use than textbooks and can be used innovatively with active learning techniques. Above all, it combines the possibility of interactive learning both in the classroom and in nature. Since the application uses the approach of experimental observational-based learning and is equipped with graphics learning aids, no pre-existing knowledge is needed, and users can determine names of typical rocks only by following the app’s instructions. Since the RockCheck application is freely available on Google play store, it can also be used by all interested social organizations in non-formal education and all other enthusiasts of geology.

The RockCheck application is a digital educational tool that contributes to the improvement and quality of teaching and learning of rocks.

The application RockCheck consists of three main chapters: Rock key, Encyclopedia and School of Rock. The contents of the chapters are interrelated and are cautiously connected with the links. You can also access all the chapters in the main menu.

Fig. 2 – Examples of screens from the application RockCheck.

The application RockCheck consists of three main chapters: Rock key, Encyclopedia and School of Rock.

The main chapter presents the Rock key where through a simple dichotomous decision key, by answering the question with yes or no, you identify the name of the individual rock. When answering the questions, you can help yourself with links that are coloured in orange and provide additional explanations of the characteristics of rocks and geological concepts in the chapter School of Rock. In this chapter short explanations and videos of different procedures to examine rocks are also presented to enable independent learning and experimenting. The answers in the rock key will bring you to the name of your rock and into chapter Encyclopedia where you can learn more about investigated rock in general, about its appearance, formation and usage.

As an important project upgrade the interactive and experimental workshop was created which provides an insight to use the application as a learning aid. The workshop uses an innovative approach based on observing and testing the properties of minerals and rocks and covers a variety of challenges that are addressed through different teaching methods.

Fig. 3 – Example of using the application at a workshop.

To support the workshop and make it easy to follow we also made special interactive learning sheets that actively involve the participants in the learning process. The workshop provides an example of how to teach geology through experimental observation-based learning and thus increases the understanding of the topic and sustainability of knowledge. We also created a board game called RockGame. It was designed to summarize the gained knowledge of geological content through gamification. The game connects minerals, rocks, raw mineral resources and the use of rocks in society. Students use the RockCheck app in the game for solving different challenges.

So far, we have had a great response to the application and a lot of downloads all around the world, which is proving the need for such an educational tool. This gives us a new impetus for further work and upgrades of the application. Spread the news about the application and do not let people take all rocks for granite 😉.

You can follow us on the Facebook and Instagram profile KamenCheck or write to us by e-mail: rockcheck.application@gmail.com. The KamenCheck and the RockCheck apps are available for free on the Google play store and are adapted for use on Android devices (soon also planned for iOS).

Slovenian version of the application (KamenCheck) was made within the student project StoneKey (call “On the creative path to knowledge 2017-2020”). The project was co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union from the European Social Fund. Further development and translation into English (RockCheck) had taken place within the Geological Survey of Slovenia through a project RM@SCHOOL 3.0 which is financed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and within the Department of Geology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, University of Ljubljana.

Contributors:  Nina Valand and Rok Brajković from the Geological Survey of Slovenia and, Petra Žvab Rožič from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering of the University of Ljubljana.

Disclaimer: This article expresses the personal opinions of the author. These opinions may not reflect the official position of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG).