Hicksville’s Old Country Road Elementary School students in Mrs. Christine Moir’s fourth-grade class culminated a science unit on rocks and minerals with a unique activity. “Moir’s Miners” were engaged in a lab that combined math, science and a little ingenuity to help them understand the difficulty in mining ores and to see first hand the effects mining large areas of land can have on the environment.
The sweet smell of chocolate chip cookies permeated the air in Mrs. Moir’s classroom as students used the popular snack and toothpicks to carefully dig out the “minerals” or chocolate chips during their lab. After recording their starting time, the miners set to work. After removing the chips, students processed their “minerals” by separating the crumbs of their cookies from the chocolate they mined and recorded their ending time. To extend the mathematical portion of the lab, students calculated their total mining and processing time, and were charged a “fee” of one dollar for every two minutes of mining time, which they were also responsible for calculating.
During the second part of the lab, students focused on how much “land” was lost during their mining. After counting the cookie pieces that broke off as they mined the chips, students multiplied this number by a “chip mine fee” of one dollar to calculate the cost of the “land” damage. The next step was to use a clear straw and a ruler to measure the amount of chocolate chips that were mined. Students used the straws to pick up their mined pieces, then measured the total amount in centimeters, and calculated a value of $5.00 for every two centimeters of “minerals” in the straw. To complete the lab, students used a series of calculations to compute their total profit, and then discussed their results with their peers as they enjoyed a reward for their hard work – an “unmined” chocolate chip cookie!