6TH GRADE EARTH SCIENCE – “COOKIE MINING”
The mining of our country’s natural resources is not just finding the coal ore we need for energy and digging it up. As part of our energy unit, 6th grade Earth Science students conducted a lab to become aware of the important economic and environmental considerations involved in a coal mining venture. These include property costs, mining equipment costs, operational costs, and land reclamation costs. To make a profit, the income from the recovered ore must be greater than the total mining costs plus any environmental fines.
In their lab they mined chocolate chip cookies to remove the chocolate chip “ore.” They had to make decisions about what type of mine (cookie) they would purchase, and tools they would purchase because students were not allowed to touch their cookie with their hands. There were operational costs for the number of minutes they mined and time was given for reclamation. In this case, all of the crumbs had to be back into a circle the same area as the original cookie otherwise there were fines.
Students seemed to enjoy this activity even if their mining company operated at a loss because at the end all students were allowed to eat the remains of their cookie!