Visual aids can be a powerful classroom tool, helping students grasp content.

In support of this concept, members of the Tehachapi Valley Gem and Mineral Society donated three geology identification kits to Tehachapi High School's Earth Science Department.

Early Thursday morning, society President Ron Myrick and Vice President Robert Papac took science teacher Greg Hargleroad and his classroom by surprise by dropping off the generous donation, which also included a piece of the earth's mantle. The mantle is a layer of silicate rock found between the earth's crust and the outer core.

"We asked him (Mr. Hargleroad) what his classroom needed, and he told us what he needed, but couldn't afford to purchase the items. So, we decided we would do this for the classroom," said Myrick.

Immediately after placing the three identification kits into the science teacher's hands, Hargleroad passed them out to his students and invited them to inspect the fossils, minerals and rocks contained in the kits.

"Part of science teaching, especially the next generation's standards, is to use local resources. One of our goals is trying to get young people more involved in the community, and, by them providing this material, it's a great asset to this community," said Hargleroad.

According to THS Principal Cristina Libatique, the donation of visual aids is always of great value to the high school.

"It's really great for us because funding is always tight, so anytime anybody in the community or any group is able to help us out with something like this is, it's very beneficial for us," she said.

TVGMS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education to its members and the public in earth science-related areas of interest including, but not limited to, lapidary work, jewelry skills, rock and gem identification, fossils, etc.

For a number of years, TVGMS has awarded scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the Teachapi area, and plans on continuing this endeavor with funds raised by donations and raffles.

Said Myrick, "When I first became president, we were doing one scholarship a year. Now, we got it up to three (scholarships). The more money we raise, the more we can help schools out."

According to the president, TVGMS intends to expand its efforts to include the junior high school's various science departments.

"We are firm believers in investing in the future of our community by providing some financial assistance to graduating high school seniors," said Papac, who is also a founding member of TVGMS.

Rock hounds of all ages, in addition to those interested in jewelry making, fossil collecting or learning about geology, are invited to join TVGMS during monthly meetings held the fourth Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Tehachapi Senior Center, located at 500 E. F St.

In addition to monthly meetings, members enjoy occasional field trips and guest speakers. Classes in metalworking and lapidary are held periodically for members in the fully functional workshop stocked with a large assortment of lapidary and jewelry making tools.

TVGMS also participates in the annual Mountain Festival by hosting its own Gem and Mineral Show at the Tehachapi Senior Center on Saturday and Sunday of that weekend. The show features a fundraising raffle, with tickets and information on this year's prize to be available soon.

For more information, follow the TVGMS Facebook page or visit tvgms.org.