(Courtesy of the Women in Mining Education Foundation)
In this game, teams of students in grades 3 – 8 are introduced to the economics and environmental constraints of mining by extracting “ore” (chocolate chips) from purchased “property” (cookies). They will learn that mining requires investment before resources can be extracted, and that there are costs associated with permits, environmental monitoring, and reclamation.
Grade level: 3 – 8
Time: 30 minutes
- A. Science as Inquiry: abilities to do inquiry [K-4]; understanding about scientific inquiry [K-12]
- B. Physical Science: properties of materials [K-4]; properties of matter [5-8]
- D. Earth and Space Science: properties of earth materials [K-4]
- E. Science and Technology: understanding about technology [K-4]
- F. Science in Social Perspective: types of resources, changes in the environment [K-4]; personal health, science and technology in society [5-8]; natural resources, environmental quality [9-12]
Look around you. Many everyday items, such as lightbulbs, cellphones, and ordinary drinking glasses, contain minerals that mining engineers have figured out how extract from the ground. They also help secure coal for power plants that light up cities.
The economics of mining can pose major challenges. To learn the process, students will buy “properties” (chocolate chip cookies), purchase the “mining equipment” (paper clips), and pay for the “mining operation” and “reclamation.” In return, they receive money for the “ore” they mined. The object: develop the mine, safeguard the environment, and make as much money as possible.
- play money ($19 for each team)
- Cookie Mining data sheet
- grid (graph) paper (1 sheet for each team)
- chocolate chip cookies (at least two varieties, 1 for each team)
- toothpicks (flat and round)
- paper clips
- paper towels (for cleanup)
- Each team starts with $19 of play money.
- Each team receives a Cookie Mining sheet and a sheet of grid paper.
- Each team must buy its own “mining property” — which is a chocolate chip cookie. Only one “mining property” per player. Two to three types of cookies should be “for sale;” a cheaper one with fewer chocolate chips and another more pricey cookie with more chocolate chips. For example, sell “Chips Ahoy” cookies for $5.00 and “Chips Deluxe” for $7.00.
Players choose their “properties” knowing that the more chips they harvest, the more profit they make.
- After buying their cookie, have each team place it on the grid paper and, using a pencil, trace the “property’s outline. They must then count each square that falls inside the circle, recording this number on the Cookie Mining Spreadsheet along with the properties of the cookie. Note: Count partial squares as a full square.
- Each team must buy its own “mining equipment.” More than one piece of equipment may be purchased. Teams cannot share equipment; each must purchase its own. Mining equipment for sale is:
Flat toothpick — $2.00 each
Round toothpick — $4.00 each
Paper clips — $6.00 each
- Mining costs are $1.00 per minute.
- Sale of a chocolate chip mined from a cookie brings $2.00 (broken chocolate chips can be combined to make one whole chip).
- After the cookie has been “mined,” the cookie fragments and crumbs should be placed back into the circled area on the grid paper. This can only be accomplished using the mining tools — No fingers or hands allowed.
- Reclamation costs are $1.00 per square over original count. (Any piece of cookie outside of original circle counts as reclamation.)
Cookie Mining Rules
- Players cannot use their fingers to hold the cookie. The only things that can touch the cookie are the mining tools and the paper on which the cookie is sitting.
- Teams should be allowed a maximum of five minutes to mine their chocolate chip cookie. Those who finish mining before the five minutes are used up should only credit the time spent mining.
- A team can purchase as many mining tools desired; the tools can be of different types.
- If the mining tools break, they are no longer usable and a new tool must be purchased.
- The teams that make money by the end of the game win.
All players win at the end of the game because they get to eat the remains of their cookie!
The game provided each team an opportunity to make the most money possible with the resources provided. Like mining operators or engineers, students had to factor in costs when determining which properties and piece or pieces of mining equipment to purchase.
Students should have learned a simplified flow of an operating mine as well as something about the difficulty of reclamation, especially in returning the cookie to the exact size that it was before “mining” started.
View a Reuters report on the Newmont gold mine, America’s largest:
“Engineering Trumps Science.” (Feb. 2011) ASEE’s Prism magazine columnist and Duke University engineering professor Henry Petroski contends that engineering, not science, rescued 33 Chilean miners in 2010.
“How Many Minerals & Metals Does It Take To Make A Light Bulb?” Downloadable poster from the Minerals Information Institute.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Science offers online exhibits of the Hope Diamond, the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners and the copper they were excavating, and mineral wonders galore.
Transformations for Teachers is a series of junior-high lesson plans created by the American Institute of Mining, Metalurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Society for Mining, Metalurgy, and Exploration.
Women in Mining Education Foundation offer more than two dozen hands-on classroom activities related to mining and earth sciences.