Borrow a Polar Rock Box

Picture of a rock box. A sample Rock Box.
Rock storage shelves Rock storage shelves at the Polar Rock Repository.
Request a Rock Box now!
Explore a Virtual Rock Box!

What is a Rock Box and why are you willing to send me one?

Rock Boxes contain samples (rocks, minerals, fossils), printed materials for student use (books), teacher materials (also available online), and tools to examine the samples. Rock Boxes are freely provided to educators as an outreach service of the Polar Rock Repository and Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University. With few exceptions, all of the samples in the box are brought to you from Antarctica!

The Polar Rock Repository is a library of samples collected by U.S. expeditions to Antarctica over the past century; the only difference is that we have rocks on our shelves rather than books. Rock Boxes are our way of sharing our vast collection of samples with you.

Additional background information and materials can be downloaded from this page to help both teachers and informal educators make use of the materials in the Rock Box.

Rock Box contents Contents of a Rock Box. Click to enlarge.

What is inside a Rock Box?

  • Authentic Rock Samples from Antarctica (~40 igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary samples are included)
  • Teachers Guide — available online (2-inch, 3-ring binder with background materials and student worksheets, as well as other materials relevant to Antarctica in particular, and geology in general)
  • Books About Antarctica, Explorers, and Geology Topics
  • Minerals and Fossils (a small assortment of each)
  • Triple-Lens, Hand-Held Magnifiers
  • Rock Box Inventory Checklist

Is there a cost?

Rock Boxes are a free service for educators in the United States! A $50.00 deposit is required with a personal check, money order, or purchase order, payable to "The Ohio State University". But, if the Rock Box is returned on time and nothing is broken or missing, your deposit will be returned. We will even cover the delivery and return shipping costs for you.

Please be courteous of other educators who are waiting to receive the Rock Box after you. If items are broken and/or missing, replacement costs will be deducted from the deposit. A reminder will be sent if the Rock Box has not been returned in the 28 day period. If the Rock Box is not returned within 30 days, a fee of $5.00 per day will be deducted from the deposit, to a maximum of the amount of the deposit. Contact the curator if you need to adjust your return date.

How is the Rock Box delivered and returned?

The materials will be sent out the day your deposit arrives at the Polar Rock Repository; the box will be shipped directly to you via UPS or made available for pick-up. Rock boxes may only be shipped to institutional addresses; they cannot be shipped to residences.

A pre-addressed, pre-paid shipping label is included in the Rock Box. All you have to do is tape the label to the shipping box and call UPS for pick-up. Details are included in the box.

Arrangements can be made for individuals living in Central Ohio to pick up and/or drop off the Rock Box in person, saving us the cost of shipping. Contact the repository curator to make these arrangements.

How long can I keep a Rock Box?

The maximum check-out time period is 28 days (calendar days, not school days) from the day the Rock Box leaves the repository.

How far in advance can I reserve a Rock Box?

Boxes can be reserved well in advance and demand increases during certain times of the year. We recommend submitting your request early to make sure that you receive the box when needed.

How do I order a Rock Box?

Now that you are ready to receive your Rock Box, complete the online form, print the e-mail confirmation, and send in your deposit. It is as easy as that!

In the unlikely event that a Rock Box is not available for the dates you request, we will contact you to make to other arrangements.

Does the background information and materials link to academic content standards?

Rock Boxes were designed around the Academic Content Standards: K-12 Science manual published by the Ohio Department of Education and the Center for Curriculum and Assessment. The materials and resources on this site and within the box can be adapted for use at the elementary, middle, or high school level. Rock Boxes can also be used by Science Olympiad teams. We hope that our materials help teachers address academic content standards, inspire scientific inquiry, and engage students of all ages to become involved in important issues surrounding science and technology.

Are there additional resources for use with the Rock Box or about rocks in general?

We offer a teaching Unit on Rocks and the Rock Cycle (PDF download) along with a table of some popular rock types (PDF download).

Request a Rock Box now!
Explore a Virtual Rock Box!