Mining Workshops Set Students Up For Future Success

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NNDSB elementary school students explore rocks and minerals at Mining Matters events.

Several Near North District School Board (NNDSB) Grade 3-5 elementary school classes are digging into a learning opportunity that teaches them about the rocks and minerals beyond the Earth’s surface.

The Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) Northern Gateway Branch, in partnership with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programming, is offering students a unique virtual-synchronized learning opportunity

“This is the second year that NNDSB has partnered with the Mining Matters team to provide this engaging learning opportunity,” said Roy Desjardins, NNDSB’s OYAP Coordinator. “Currently, there are 15 NNDSB elementary schools, with a total of more than 450 students, participating in a Deeper and Deeper: Discovering Rocks and Minerals workshop. The level of support and enthusiasm held by our educators, coupled with the excitement demonstrated by our young learners, showcases how synchronous experiential learning can be brought into the classroom via a virtual platform.”

There are four workshop options for teachers to select from – minerals, rocks, mining, and what on Earth is in your stuff? No matter what workshop is selected, students receive a workshop kit to assist their hands-on learning.

Taking a look at the rocks workshop, students explore the rock cycle, gain an understanding of how each of the three rock groups are formed through a series of demonstrations, discover some of the clues to look for to help determine which of the rock group a rock is from and then use those clues to identify a mystery rock.

Going deep underground to the mining workshop is where we find students exploring the mining cycle, comparing surface and underground mines, discussing the costs and benefits of mining and learning about responsibilities to the environment and communities.

What on Earth is in your stuff is the next workshop stop. Students use maps to examine and locate where rocks, minerals, and metals are found in Canada. Additionally, they learn about everything in our world that isn’t grown or made by using non-renewable resources extracted from the Earth.

In the minerals workshop, students learn the difference between rocks and minerals, conduct tests geologists use to examine the physical characteristics of minerals, use their observations to identify mystery minerals and gain an understanding of how minerals are used in daily life.

Recently, this workshop was presented to a Grade 4-5 class at E.T Carmichael Public School in North Bay.

“It was very fun and we got to explore rocks and minerals,” said Kyler Sargeant. “We also got a book on mining that was fun to learn about. It made a difference in my day, to meet interesting people doing interesting work.”

An excited Nevaeh Einarson said she had fun with the learning and shared some of the things she learned.

“I learned a lot about rocks and minerals. What they are, what they do, how they smell, are they magnetic, and how they feel,” she said.

“It was fun because I was able to do hands-on learning. We got to do tests on the rocks and we learned about rocks and minerals. It was fun to ask questions and we learned that rocks could carry electricity and have magnetic fields,” said classmate Jake Charbonneau.

Teacher Mike Landoni noted the students really enjoyed the experiential learning opportunity.

“The most interesting thing for me was the opportunity to provide students with these individualized kits where they get to do hands-on learning and create some of their own personal connections based on that experience,” he said. “I have a Grade 4-5 split class, so for Grade 4, we’re looking directly at the curriculum in science, developing an understanding of rocks and minerals, and how rocks are formed in various rock types. This Mining Matters workshop played really well into the learning that we did leading up to the workshop. Following this workshop, we’ve generated a nice amount of momentum for that type of learning.”

Landoni added, “Students had some prior knowledge and some experience playing with rocks, for example, just being outdoors in the environment around our neighbourhoods and communities. But for others, I could tell this was the first time they’ve actually thought about that scientific approach. Being able to do it with a hands-on primary experience is a good way for students to have an introduction to or a little taste of this world and maybe that’s something that they would seek out in their own learning journey later on this year or later on in their life.”

Classmate Charlie Hicks enjoyed the workshop. “The exercise was fun because we all had different results based on the mineral examples we were given to investigate,” he said.

Principal of E.T. Carmichael, Jamey Byers, touted the opportunities that students are receiving to expand their knowledge and provide hands-on learning. “Our students are fortunate to have the Mining Matters synchronous experiential learning opportunity delivered right to their classroom. We have a lot of mining industry-related learning opportunities as our students enter their secondary school years, with programs such as SHSM and OYAP. Having our elementary students engage and be aware of the mining industry and the underlying science can bring added awareness and spark their interests in the field.”

More NNDSB schools and classes will be participating in these workshops until the end of December. Watch for more photos on NNDSB’s social media accounts.

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