SOLE Brings Mining into the Classroom at Las Animas Elementary
What do chocolate chips have to do with Colorado’s history, you ask? The 4th graders of Las Animas Elementary discovered that chocolate chip cookies are an excellent and tasty demonstration of the role mining has played in Colorado’s history.
First, students participated in a matching activity where they were each given either the name of a mined resource or an object made from a mined resource. Students giggled as they matched clay to their coffee mug and photos of a toilet seat and brick wall. Less obvious matches were slightly tricky. Did you know that plastics such as tupperware are made with petroleum? Once everyone found their match, groups tried to identify an object used in everyday life that was also made from their mined resource. They quickly discovered that many of the items that we use all the time come from mined resources.
Next, students had the opportunity to do some mining of their own. Instructors passed out a pieces of paper that had a grid representing parts of a landscape: water, habitat, animals, soil, plants, and beautiful views. Then, each student received a chocolate chip cookie to place on the landscape. They used their imaginations to decide what resource the chocolate chips would represent in their cookie mountain. Using a toothpick as their mining tool, students dug into their quarry. Some students carefully dug around their treasure, gently removing it from the surrounding cookie. Others eagerly tore their cookies apart to uncover as much as they could in the given time.
When time was up, students took at look at how far their crumbs spread across their paper, then attempted to put the cookie back together. As they tried to restore the cookie and remove all the crumbs surrounding landscape, we discussed the way real mines can impact the environment and the importance of deciding where to put a mine. Though students were given some guidelines, there were no regulations on how they dug out their chocolate chips. Instructors explained that mining is strictly regulated to ensure that people and the environment are kept safe during the process. At the end students were given a fresh cookie to enjoy as they pondered the trade-offs involved in mining!