October 15, 2014

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado–Fourth graders at Pomona Elementary recently learned about rocks and mining in an exciting, interactive way thanks to a presentation by local ready-mixed concrete, aggregate, asphalt, paving and construction service supplier, United Companies. The company used the educational program Rocks Build Our World to teach students about responsible mining and reclamation.

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.  And 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.

Mining requires responsibility, and we emphasize that with the students says Pete Siegmund, United Companies™ environmental vice president. Most of the students in the class have experienced the benefits of resourceful mining. The Colorado River Trail and Connected Lakes State Park are examples of benefits to the community from mining. United Companies has donated land and several mine sites to help create these trails and lakes that are regularly used by the community.

Fourth grade teacher Michelle Lyon said the students enjoyed the hands-on activities and mining for chocolate chips. She added, “Our learners had a great experience with the hands-on activities that enhanced our lessons in Colorado history, specifically mining. The students saw firsthand the value of reclaiming land, as well as the effects it has on our/their future. I also appreciated the use of vocabulary and the real world application of the rock materials. Although mining for gold in Colorado’s history is thing of the past, mining is so very important to our current Colorado industry.

United Companies plans to teach the program to other fourth graders when school starts next fall.