Take an active part in an expedition around the world!

With the "Forschungsreise" (Hands-on lab or "Research Expedition") of terra mineralia, school children and students discover natural sciences. During several programmes, students of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg help school children to get an impression of mineralogical and geological sciences. Apart from diverse microscopes, there are density scales as well as a scanning electron microscope, minerals and touchable rocks in the "Research Expedition".

Opening times of the "Forschungsreise"/Research expedition (Hands On Laboratory)

Saturday - Sunday 11 am - 5 pm

2018 Experiments of the Month

If there is no holiday programme, our Experiment of the Month will be waiting for you at weekends in the ‘Research Expedition’, terra mineralia’s hands-on laboratory. Here you will be able to support students of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg with their exciting experiments. Apart from school holidays, every Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.

January: Diamond

Diamond is the best-known gemstone in the world because it sparkles and shines brighter than any other gem. And it is made of nothing but carbon – an element that we humans are made of, too. Did you know that diamonds can only form 150 kilometres down in the earth? In January, TU Bergakademie Freiberg students will explain to you just what happens deep in the earth so that a diamond can form out of carbon. After all, diamonds are not only beautiful, they are also the hardest mineral in the world. This Experiment of the Month will give you the chance to get to know diamonds better and investigate them yourself – you’ll be able to weigh diamonds, calculate their density, check if they are genuine using a diamond tester, and find out what you can use the hardest mineral in the world for. You will also discover how you work out a diamond’s value and what shapes you can cut them into.

March: Sediments

Pebbles in your shoes, sand in your eyes, and dust on the street – in our daily lives, we are continually encountering tiny little stones all over the place. Geologists call these small particles sediments. They cover around 75% of the earth surface. In other words, most of the earth’s crust we walk on is not made of firm, solid rock, but of deposits of crushed little pieces of stone. In sandy deserts, with pebbles in a river, or sand in the sea, this is evident in particular. But where do the tiny little pebbles and all that sand come from? How do the sediments get from where they were formed to the place where they are deposited? Which rocks are formed from these sediments, and which minerals can you find in them? We will have illustrations, lots of samples, and even simple experiments to bring the whole topic of sediments to life. You’ll also be able to take a look at our ever-growing collection of various sand types. You can also look through one of our microscopes to find out more about the fascinating world of sand.

April: The five senses

Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling – these are our five senses. Our sense organs are what we use to perceive stimuli in our environment. When these signals reach our brain, they produce pictures and impressions of the world around us. We mainly appreciate beautiful minerals like the ones you can see at terra mineralia through seeing. But there are other ways, too … In September, we will have lots of ores and rocks for you to explore with all of your senses. But what you hear in a mineral? Terra mineralia has a lithophone that you can use for ‘making music’. You play it like a xylophone, and it is made of volcanic rock. Then some minerals give off a characteristic smell. These include sulphur, for example. If, on the other hand, you want to identify halite (rock salt) or sylvite, you can tell them by their taste. In the field, scientists ‘taste’ some smaller particles if they don’t have more precise instruments on hand. This is how you can distinguish between clays, silts or fine sand. Our sense of touch is essential, too. Some minerals feel oily, greasy, smooth, rough or sharp-edged.

June: Amber

With a little luck and with your eyes peeled, there is something you might find if you walk along the Baltic beaches: amber. It looks like whitish to honey-coloured pebbles, sometimes even greenish or reddish. It has been prized as a commodity and a precious jewel since Roman and Viking times. But how can you recognise amber? You have to know its properties to be able to distinguish it from tiny pieces of glass or stone. There are also a few useful tips for you if you’d like to make a significant find. But above all, a little gem like this has lots of stories to tell. It is these stories you will discover in the Research Expedition, terra mineralia’s hands-on laboratory, this June.

September: Volcanoes

It is getting hot in the Research Expedition, terra mineralia’s hands-on laboratory because our Experiment of the Month in April is all about volcanoes. These fascinating mountains of fire can produce minerals, rocks, and even entire mountains. We will use a jigsaw of the continents to discover where you find volcanoes. In the process, you will also learn that there are different kinds of volcanoes. Every type of volcano has a typical eruption behaviour. You will be able to use a ‘volcano pump’ to experience for yourself what happens during a volcanic eruption. Characteristic minerals and rocks develop in and around volcanoes: pumices can swim, obsidian is razor-sharp, and sulphur stinks. If you like, you will be able to make your own model volcano at the end and take it home.

November: Deep Impact

We often have discoveries submitted to terra mineralia that look like they may be meteorites. In November, you’ll be able to investigate three of these finds for yourself. We will play games and learn the properties of meteorites and what they are made of. Iron meteorites, for example, are magnetic and contain nickel, something that you can easily test for. An even more fascinating question is where in the universe these heavenly messengers come from and how they find their way to earth. Depending on the size of the meteorite, this involves a collision – something scientists call an impact. But what are the results of an impact? And what traces do we still find today? TU Bergakademie Freiberg students will provide answers to these questions and have some experiments prepared that you can try out for yourself.

December: Fluorescence

Minerals come in the most varied colours imaginable – colours which you can easily recognise at first sight. But certain minerals keep a colourful ‘secret’ that they only share in a particular light. When you illuminate them with ultraviolet light, they shine with a genuinely magical glow. It is an effect you can also see in living creatures like scorpions or glow worms and even in washing powder. Ultraviolet light has very high levels of energy. People can’t see it, but they can feel it on their skin because it causes sunburn. In December, TU Bergakademie Freiberg students will be showcasing fluorescence experiments in the Research Expedition, terra mineralia’s hands-on laboratory. They will, first of all, explain where and how this beautiful effect is produced in minerals. You will then have the opportunity to shine a UV torch on minerals and find out what colour they glow. There will also be experiments to show how you can make eggs, chestnut tree branches or pudding glow. You can even discover fluorescence in scorpions, bitter lemon drinks or banknotes.

Stereo microscopes

There are six stereo microscopes that visitors can use free of charge. Here you can get a closer look at different sand types, minerals and rocks. You can also bring your own samples to look at them.

Scanning electron microscope

Our staff will explain how a scanning electron microscopes works and you can watch students doing their research.

Microscopes with camera

With the help of special camera microscopes the visitors can observe their own minerals on big PC and TV screens. Furthermore it is possible to take pictures of samples or to produce 3D-pictures of the minerals. The pictures can be printed. (Laser print: € 0.20, high quality photo print: € 2.00)

3D- slide show

Visitors can see minerals or insects enclosed in amber as 3-dimensional images. It is also possible to take pictures of your own samples (on appointment).

Crystal systems

Minerals occur in various forms and shapes. Here you can see wooden models of the various crystal forms. Minerals are divided in 7 crystal systems (cubic, tetragonal, hexagonal, trigonal, rhombic, anorthic and monoclinic). Our staff will explain these systems to you, why minerals have certain shapes and how the mineral shape stands in relation with the atomic structure.

Streak colour

The determination of the streak colour is the first step when trying to identify a mineral. Visitors can determine the streak colour of different minerals. Also the question if the colour of a mineral is always indicative of its streak colour will be answered.

Mohs scale of hardness

Besides the streak colour, the hardness of a mineral is the most important property when identifying an unknown mineral. Our staff will show you how the MOHS' scale of hardness is used. Vistitors can test their new knowledge at different mineral samples.

The rock cycle

Here you can see examples of the three types of rock: igneous, methamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Our staff can explain how they originate, how to differentiate between these groups and how to identify them.


In the fluorescence box visitors can find out which minerals will glow when subjected to rays of Ultra-Violet light; which colours minerals have and which kind of UV-rays make them glow. Our staff will explain what exactly causes the colours or why some minerals will glow at all.


The research expedition also harbors a small library with books and journals concerning minerals and rocks. You are invited to do your own research using the literature provided.