"My grade 3 class has been studying rocks and minerals as part of their earth science unit and I was impressed to see how many learning outcomes were covered in your presentation. The children were always actively involved and enjoyed all parts of the program. They explored the new exhibits and were excited at having the opportunity to see crystals and minerals in such detail. Once again, thank you for a terrific field trip."
Eagle View Elementary School

"Thank you for spending so much time on teaching us about gemstones. I never saw a carnelian or a rhodonite before but on friday I did. My favorite gemstone is carnelian. Sometimes I like rhodonite. I hope we meet again."
Uplands Elementary

Gems and Fossils

at the Scratch Patch
for Grades 4-12


Welcome to a real hands-on experience in paleontology! The class is first introduced to the concept of the basic rocks types (igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary). Then the origin of life and the fossil record is discussed. The level of complexity will depend on the class's previous knowledge and feedback during the talk.

Hand specimens are passed around. Some large fossils are shown and talked about too. This takes about 15-20 minutes. The techniques of excavating, using a hammer and chisel, are explained.

To ensure a real paleontological experience, we limit the number of 'diggers' in the DinoDig to 8 or less. The class is therefore broken up into 2 or more groups of this number, and each enjoys 15 minutes of excavating. The work is physically demanding, and it is our experience that this is the optimum length of time.

The rest of the group spend their time in the Scratch Patch, filling a collector's bag with gemstones and shells, and panning for gold and fool's gold.

"This is, like, hard work!"
Junior paleontologist

"The Scratch Patch was great too because there's not many other places where you can actually keep gemstones and fossils. Let alone dig up the fossils from millions of years ago. Thank you for everything and I hope we can go back again."
James Kennedy Elementary,
Langley, BC

"Thank you Doc Rock, Suzanne and Iona! I learned that Jade is B.C.'s provincial gem. I liked it when I got to pick out rocks to take home."
Grade 3er,
Hans Helgensen Elementary

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Mineral World

Identify your

Scratch Patch

Dino Dig


Students excavating at the DinoDig

Excavating Fossils

The students work under a tented canopy in the DinoDig. Equipped with a rubber hammer and chisel (with a hand guard), these young scientists are taught what to look for in the synthetic rock, and then start chipping away in search of specimens. Only real fossils are used, and what they find, they keep. We believe this to be unique in North America.

A trained member of staff supervises the dig at all times, and is there to help with excavating, to identify strange fragments, and to lend encouragement when the diggers tire.


Cost is $7.50 (including taxes) per student, minimum of 15 students. We have hosted many classes since 1998. It gets very busy in June, which is the only month when this is available, so please book well in advance.

Ammonites and brachiopod fossils

Free time collecting

Those students not involved with the DinoDig are provided with a collector's bag each (normal value $6 + tax) and are allowed to collect semi-precious gemstones, tropical shells, and to pan for gold and fool's gold in the Scratch Patch.

Teaching a course on rocks & minerals? Doc Rock teaches school groups all about igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, with real hands-on specimens! Check out the Gems, Rocks & Minerals page!

Mineral World & Scratch Patch

On the waterfront
9891 Seaport Place, Sidney, BC
Phone: (250)655-GEMS


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Press Inquiries/Webmaster Contact:
Bill Allen

(516) 486-3902
2480 Lawn Drive, #2
East Meadow, NY 11554