Capstone Project Highlight Series: Francesca Mazzotta ’21

Each year, a number of junior and senior class members choose to participate in the MFS Capstone Program. Designed to challenge students who wish to pursue advanced study in a particular field, the program asks participants to produce scholarly work by engaging in independent research and/or creative development under the guidance of an MFS faculty member. This series highlights recently completed projects of the 18 senior students in the program. 

While we learn about Roman and Greek mythology as students, we don’t often trace it into other subject matters. Francesca Mazzotta ’21 wanted to teach MFS students about the connection between mythology and geology by creating a Middle School activity class titled “Mythology Rocks!” While the pandemic restrictions kept her from being able to teach the class, she shifted to creating the curriculum for a class in hopes that it can be taught in the future. 

“Mythology Rocks! aimed to establish a general understanding of how ancient civilizations and their belief systems influence our current society and the names we chose to represent different geological topics, specifically rocks and minerals.” The curriculum was broken into five 30-minute class periods: an introductory class to both mythology and geology and then four classes focused on specific rocks and minerals – opal, neptunite, selenite, and amethyst. As the classes progress, the connections between the two subjects are made:

  • Opal, a stone known for the many colors that are reflected within it, was named for the Roman goddess of Earth and fertility Ops.
  • Neptunite, which was found alongside aegirine, a mineral named for the Scandinavian sea god, followed in the same path and was named for the Roman sea god Neptune.
  • Selenite, a stone translucent and white in color, was named after the Greek goddess of the moon Selene. 
  • Amethyst was less apparent in the connection between stone and mythology. Believed to be created by Dionysus, Amethyst was a mortal whom he was in love with but was turned into a quartz statue by the goddess Artemis after nearly being killed by Dionysus for not returning his love. 

Along with their origin stories, Francesca explains that each of the stones and minerals believed purpose or healing quality is strongly linked to the mythical deity that it was named for. Learn more about Francesca’s project and each of the connections between mythology and geology on her capstone page.

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