Keep on Rockin

May 25, 2011

Ogden, UTAH–62 fourth graders sit anxiously on the edge of their chairs and answer questions as Staker Parson employee Lisa Nielson asks them to name the three rock types and tell her how many surface mines there are in the US. The students have just watched a video about mining. Next, they will try on personal protective equipment, use a screen to separate rock sizes and mix up a little batch of concrete.

Nielson, along with several other Staker Parson employees, have presented the Rocks Build Our World program to over 2,000 Utah elementary school students this year alone. “It’s been a wonderful experience for me to teach the students about rocks, mining and reclamation,” Nielson said. “We have the chance to expose kids to different subjects and help them get excited about something they may not have been excited about before.”

After a discussion about the importance of mine safety, each student is given a chance to try their hands at mining. They use mining money to purchase tools (toothpicks or paper clips) and chocolate chip cookies. It’s a race to see who can “mine” the most chocolate chips using only the tools they purchase. Students are given one dollar for each clean chocolate chip they mine. Then they have one minute to reclaim their sites and are fined for any crumbs they have left behind after mining.

“The students see firsthand how important it to use your resources wisely,” Nielson said. “We are able to teach them that if you’re mining, you always clean up your site so you leave it looking better than you found it.” The students laugh as Nielson tells them to go home and practice reclaiming their rooms.

The presentation ends with the rock man dance: students spell ROCK to the tune of YMCA and compete to see if boys or girls are the better dancers. As the students collapse into their chairs, Neilson says, “If you learned something new about rocks, yell rock on!” The students jump as they exclaim, “Rock on!”