MEC K-12 OUTREACH PILOT PROGRAM:
WORKING TO INCREASE OUTREACH TO CLASSROOMS
We are excited to announce the new MEC K-12 Outreach Pilot Program being piloted in two Denver Public Schools in line with one of MEC’s goals—to have a stronger presence in primary and secondary classrooms.
MEC K-12 OUTREACH PROGRAM GOALS
It is the goal of the outreach program to create an interest in careers in mineral industries while helping teachers meet science standards set out by their school districts. Teachers are often overwhelmed by the material they must cover throughout the year. MEC intends to help with their science curriculum by having mineral professionals visit their class. The long-term goals of this outreach program are a greater public understanding of mineral uses, an improved recognition of the importance of mining, and getting K-12 students interested in mining and minerals industry careers.
This program is in its pilot year two in two Denver Public Schools—Place Bridge Academy (K-8) and South High School (9-12)—this 2023/2024 school year, and will be piloted in Utah for the 2024/2025 school year. If proven successful in the two states, the program will be released for replication in other SME Sections in other states.
MEC K-12 OUTREACH PILOT PRORAM – OVERVIEW OF YEAR ONE – 2022/2023
During the 2022/23 school year, the pilot program has completed 12 mining-related lesson presentations, a field trip to the Colorado School of Mines, and has offered educational resources to K-12 teachers. Some of the notable presentations were:
Drilling with Donuts Presentation
Heather Lammers and Dick Beach led an exploration “drilling with donuts” activity for 20 second grade students. Students engaged in a safety discussion at the start of the presentation and were able to decorate their own hard hats with stickers supplied by the Colorado School of Mines. Each student received a donut, some with filling and some with toppings. The toppings represented how minerals are located on the surface of the ground and the donuts with filling represented how minerals are found underground. Students were able to locate “minerals” unique to their donuts using a variety of utensils to represent drilling and sampling methods.
Mineral Careers Presentations
Over the school year, nearly 100 students attended presentations on careers in the mining industry. Students engaged in a discussion about the mining life cycle and what minerals make up everyday items and they participated in a mineral career mapping exercise where they learned more about mining engineers, blasters, equipment operators, exploration geologists, equipment mechanics and mineral processors. Students were able to ask questions throughout the activity about what it would be like to work in the minerals industry.
Rocks and Minerals Presentations
Twenty-three high school students and 70 elementary school students learned about rock formation, rocks composed of minerals, how these materials are used to build civilization and sustain a lifestyle, and demonstrated the methods and tools geologists use to study the Earth.
Mineral Processing Presentations
During a minerals separation activity more than 50 high school students were provided a “mineral mixture” of sand, beads, iron filings, and salt and worked in pairs to use the tools provided, such as screens, spoons, water, cups, and magnets to separate each of the individual “minerals” from the mixture. Students recorded their procedure in a process flowsheet and competed against each other in speed and completeness of steps.
Mineral Scientific Method Presentation
Using the scientific method, Dick Beach had 25 high school students observing, testing, and recording data to determine selected properties of important rock and mineral samples. The samples and presentation were tailored to meet applicable standards.
Richard Schwering gave a presentation on erosion and weathering to 23 high school students. After the lecture, small groups worked through a lab designed to demonstrate concepts of weathering and erosion by wind, rain/stream, wave, and chemical weathering processes. The lab included applications and investigations of the scientific method.
Colorado School of Mines Field Trip
Bruce Yoshioka welcomed 19 high school students on a tour of Colorado School of Mines. Students received a Mines backpack with admissions information and went to the mining processing lab for a short presentation about the mining industry, which included a froth flotation exercise. After the lab exercise, the students took a self-guided tour of the Mines Earth Museum and a walking tour of the Earth Mechanics Institute.
The pilot program will continue in the same Denver Public Schools for 2023/24 and will be replicated in two Utah schools for the 2024/2025 school year. If successful, an outreach action plan toolkit will be developed and disseminated to SME Sections. In the meantime, resources are available for SME sections on the MEC website for their local outreach efforts.
For questions about the program or to volunteer or help secure mineral samples, please contact Akudo Nwokeukwu at email@example.com.