Reflection: Rigor The Copper Conundrum - Section 3: Explain: Environmental and Human Impacts


Students will study natural resources in 4th grade.  This lesson, with its detailed focus on a particular type of mining, lends itself easily to the integration of 3rd grade topics and 4th grade topics.  Students are asked to keep ideas about organisms and their ability to adapt to a changed habitat in the back of their mind as they are introduced to the environmental impacts of mining.  A layer of rigor is added when students are asked to think about short term consequences (obvious disturbance) and possible long-term consequences (which range the spectrum from some lands that are actually reclaimed to those that suffer from toxic leaching that will continue for centuries, for example). An additional layer of complexity is added when they are not allowed the easy answer of, “Just close all the mines.”   As someone who grew up far away from surface evident mining, that is still my visceral reaction.  Until I stop using copper, I don’t think I get that easy answer.  So students need to weigh their variable awareness of some of the harmful effects of coal mining with the knowledge that we are all a part of this problem.  Finally, I challenge them to extend their thinking by asking them about possible solutions.  Geologists, hydrologists, engineers, and many other specialized scientists work on problems just like these.

  Connecting Content
  Rigor: Connecting Content
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The Copper Conundrum

Unit 16: End of Year Lessons: Geology and Natural Resources
Lesson 5 of 5

Objective: Students will be introduced to the complexity of natural resource uses through the example of copper mining and use.

Big Idea: Extraction of mineral resources that we ALL use in our everyday lives causes changes to the habitat of many animals as well as other complications.

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Science, Geology, natural resources
  71 minutes
asarco mission mine lesson image
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