Lesson plan- Impact of mining on the environment


As part of our lesson, we discuss the impact of obtaining natural resources and their effects on the environment. Students learn about different minerals found in Southeast Alaska and how minerals are used in our daily life.

This lesson focuses on pros/ cons of mining on environment and the role of minerals in our society.

The lesson addresses content and curriculum standards. It uses modern tools and technology, like a Kahoot! Pre-assessment, matching names of minerals with photos, and watching a video about an abandoned Gold Mine in Juneau, Alaska.

By doing the lab activity simulating mining, students will develop an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking, and perspectives. They will each receive a blueberry muffin. The muffin represents a land area and the blueberries are valuable deposits.  The goal is to remove as many mineral deposits (blueberries) with the least amount of damage to the land. Students can use different materials to mine,and different mining methods. The activity will lead them to the essential question of the lesson:

Can we mine while not destroying the Earth?

I chose to bring members of the community to share their knowledge and expertize: a U.S. Forest Service employee and a USGS employee. They will speak to the students about resource sources in the forest and the local mines, presenting mining from their perspective.

Students will listen to a story about the resources of the Tongass which opens up a discussion about the wildlife that will be endangered by mining.

To assess the outcomes students will be split in 2 groups and will have a mock debate in front of our guests and classroom. One group will be given the task to brainstorm 5 things pro mining and the other group will have to come up with 5 things against mining. Both groups will have 2 minutes to support their cause. The last activity gives us the chance to share opinions, and to reflect on the impact of mining on the environment.

For a PDF version of the lesson plan click here:Lesson plan- Impact of mining on the environment

12 thoughts on “Lesson plan- Impact of mining on the environment”

  1. Hi, Ioana!

    This sounds like a fascinating lesson topic. I have wondered how mining has affected the environment in Alaska, and I know it is a very relevant and place-based topic. I can’t wait to see this in the iBook!

  2. What a well-organized, informative, creative and fun looking lesson! I like how you broke it down and had multiple types of activities involved– including reading the story book. Looks good!

  3. Best lesson I’ve seen or heard about so far. Of course I’m partial to discourse on mining and the environment, but none the less you have put together what looks to be a fun, challenging, and meaningful lesson for students of a variety of ages.

  4. I am already creating my strategy for getting blueberries out of a muffin without destroying the muffin! And getting hungry! HA, thanks for your creativity and thoughtfulness in this lesson!

  5. Ioana- THIS IS AMAZING!!! You have met so many standards here by using technology, bringing in guest speakers, doing some place-based learning, and trying not to destroy muffins! I like your use of technology to do a pre-assessment in Kahoots and watching the video about the mine. The identification of various minerals will look great in iBooks format too. Seems like your lesson could include some field trips to look at abandoned mines or to visit the City Museum of Alaska State Museum. I really like the creativity you used to teach about a science subject.

  6. Ioana,
    I love the blueberry activity! This lesson successfully displays both points of view on the mining industry and evidence to support those causes. I also liked how you would bring in a guest to speak about the garnet mine in Petersburg since you are studying there. This would be a great lesson for a Juneau teacher to do since mining is very present in our district. Mining is still a hot topic of debate in Juneau because of its effects on salmon runs…this would also be a chance for a Native speaker to discuss their perspective on the effects of mining on the environment. Great job!

  7. I am trying really hard not to be hyperbolic but this is probably the coolest lesson I’ve ever read. If only I had a science teacher like you. I’m so impressed that you were able to meet so many standards while keeping the lesson fun, surprising, and engaging throughout. Great hook with the Kahoot game, and oh my God, the blueberry muffin idea is brilliant. Amazing work.

  8. Great! This is an awesome lesson and I hope you give me a call when you are putting it on for your class so that I can come and join in the fun. Learning should be fun, and messy science is ALWAYS fun!

  9. Is that cover photo Blind slough near Petersburg? This is a great lesson plan, especially in a town like Petersburg where the entire economy (nearly) relies on healthy streams and oceans for fish. But their boats are often made of…metals and other things that must be mined.

    I like the blueberries – kids are highly food motivated and the analogy works well too. I think getting two agency employees (one from an agency that is traditionally more mining restrictive and one that is traditionally more mining inclusive) is a great idea.

    Good work!

  10. Very comprehensive lesson! Agree with all the comments above, and I will never look at a blueberry muffin the same way anymore. You briefly mention the use of copper by Tlingit people and I think that would be a great opportunity to make a cultural comparison on economic ‘value’ and resources – ie: copper tinaas vs gold. Just a random thought. Again, very nicely done.

  11. Ioana-I loved having debates in the classroom when I was in school. I think students will really enjoy this as well, especially since it will hit home for many of them. Excellent lesson plan! I can’t wait to hear how it goes! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Mining for blueberries is such an innovative and inventive lesson activity to give students perspective on a very serious issue. The self-guided nature of the experiment gives the students so much freedom to explore, question, and analyze what mining does to the earth, and I bet it helps students to make meaning and connections from their own trial and error.

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