Ouch! It’s Hard!

Contributor: Kaitlyn Aston. Lesson ID: 12507

Some minerals are so hard that it requires machines to break them apart; on the other "hand," some are so soft that we can break them apart with our hands! Learn about an easier way to test minerals!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Do you know what is pictured above? Doesn't it look delicate and fragile, like a piece of glass or ice? Did you know that a diamond is actually the hardest mineral in the world? Other minerals can be surprisingly soft, so read on to find out which is which!

There are so many minerals out there in nature that it can be difficult to tell one from another.

Well, as you learned from Flo in the previous Minerals lesson, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar, the streak test is a method scientists use to tell one type of mineral from another. In this lesson, Flo will show you another way that you can identify minerals.

  • Did you know that some minerals are super hard — so hard they can cut through almost anything — while others are very soft?

Let's watch Flo teach about a new mineral test: the hardness test!


The hardness test is a very useful method for determining which mineral is which.

  • Why is it so important to know how hard a mineral is?

Since minerals can be used in a variety of ways to create a variety of things, designers want to make sure they are using the right mineral for the job. For instance, if someone wants to make a sturdy and strong bridge, they would not want to use a mineral that is used to make paint. Instead, they will want to use a hard mineral. If they used a soft mineral that is used to make paint, they would end up with one soft and shaky bridge!

It is always important to remember when you should and should not use a poisonous mineral when constructing something. If you remember from the previous lesson, you learned that lead is a poisonous mineral. That means you should not use lead in things you eat and drink from — such as water pipes and utensils — or paint that you may come in contact with. Instead, safer minerals that are not poisonous are best to use when making something that may contact food and drink. This is why using the hardness test to figure out how hard or soft a mineral is can be very useful.

Continue on to the Got It? section to answer some questions that shouldn't be too "hard"!

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