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Summer readers learn about rocks and minerals

“X” marks the spot.Photo by Brandon Hicks
And that spot was to be found at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library Tuesday, as young readers searched for treasure during the Summer Reading Program.
These treasures weren’t found in books or stories. Instead, they were uncovered in the portable mining flume from Cooper’s Gem Mine from Blountville.
Each child who wanted to mine for gems was given a mining sieve filled with rocks, dirt and gems.
They then submerged their trays in the water to remove the dirt and uncover which of the items were standard rocks and which were special gems. Some of the precious stones they could find included emeralds, garnets, amethyst, peacock ore, pyrite — also known as fool’s gold — blue apatite, teal apatite, green aventurine and orange aventurine.
Paul DeMaria enjoyed his time mining gems at the library. His favorite find?
A piece of blue apatite.
“This one is the best one,” DeMaria said, as he looked at his gemstone. “My mom likes this one too.”
Many of the young readers were rock collectors even before the session with Cooper’s Gem Mine. They used the experience to add to their collection.
“I’ve been collecting for about three years,” Daniel Grubb said. “I am going to take these home and put them in my rock collection. I keep them separated by colors and size.”
Daniel’s younger brother, Timothy Grubb, is also a rock collector, but is newer to the game.
“I like the rocks because they’re pretty and they have different shapes,” Timothy explained.
Lillian Andrews planned to take her new gems home and complete a more thorough inspection.
“I am going to see if I have any of these gems,” she said, pointing to a sheet that told of some unique stones that could be found. “I have a collection of rocks that are gems and they will go in it.”
What is mining for gems in the portable sluice like?
“It’s like being in a cave, and you’re digging in the ground looking for gems,” Lillian said.
Bodhi Mink was excited after finding a piece of fool’s gold in his mining tray.
“I’m rich!” he exclaimed. “I found gold.”
Cooper’s Gem Mine has had a place in the Summer Reading Program for the past few years and has become a regular fixture.
Children’s Librarian Ashlee Williams said the gem mine is brought back each year because it is a favorite of the children. It also meets the science and math focus of the Summer Reading Program, because the readers get to learn about the different types of gems they uncover through the process.
“We hope they’ll be able to better recognize the rocks and minerals that can be found in our area,” Williams said.