Thursday, January 28, 2016

Resources for Teaching about Copper Mining

A teacher who attended our weeklong NEH-funded workshop, "The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West," last summer sent us a link to Dig into Mining: The Story of Copper. The interactive web-based program for students grades 6-8 uncovers the use of metals such as copper in our everyday life, and provides students a deeper understanding of today’s hard rock mining industry.

It looks to be a very well-done resource. The only caveat is that it doesn't talk about environmental impacts of copper mining and processing. Clark Fork Watershed Education Program has a few relevant lesson plans highlighting the aftermath of copper mining in Butte on their website: cfwep.orgPitwatch.org has information about the Berkeley Pit. Another resource that focuses on industrial mining's environmental consequences is this PowerPoint and script about Butte's industrial landscape. Professor Fred Quivik created the PowerPoint to present to educators as part of The Richest Hills, but it can be easily modified to use in your classroom. 

Two other relevant and extremely well-done resources--especially for high school students--about copper mining in Butte and its aftermath are the movie, Butte, America, and the article "Pennies from Hell: In Montana, the Bill for America’s Copper Comes Due" (written by Edwin Dobb and published in Harper's Weekly in October 1996). Neither are available online, but both are well worth the extra time it will take to work with your librarian to access this material. A trailer for Butte, America, which really is one of the most powerful movies ever made about Butte, is here

P.S. Dig into Mining is offering a virtual tour of the Morenci Copper Mine in Arizona on March 3. Designed for middle school students, this virtual  field trips will provide "a behind-the-scenes interactive journey of copper processing and show how copper goes from ore to 99.9% pure copper! During this virtual event, students will hear from mining engineers, metallurgists and others on how they apply STEM in their daily tasks." Learn more and register here.  

P.P.S. Find out how you can attend an NEH-funded workshop next summer here

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