Sept/Oct 2010

The butterfly effect

The far-reaching effects of CIM’s MIS show

By Andrea Nichiporuk

Mary Ringwald 

Since its inception in 2005, CIM’s Mining in Society (MIS) initiative has educated the public on the importance of mining to everyday life, primarily through an annual show held in conjunction with the CIM Conference and Exhibition. After attending MIS last May in Vancouver, Mary Ringwald, a kindergarten teacher from Coquitlam, British Columbia, decided to introduce mining into the class curriculum. The result went beyond what she expected, showing how important (and successful) initiatives like MIS are. She sent CIM the following letter:

What lies beneath a trip to MIS 2010?

Kindergarten children from Eagle Ridge Elementary in Coquitlam, British Columbia, prospered from this year’s visit to the CIM Conference in Vancouver. Not only did they play with reclaimed metal objects to create over-sized Olympic “Metal Medals,” but they also visited the amazing place where their art was displayed — Mining in Society at the Vancouver Convention Centre! Dozens of children and parent volunteers uncovered a range of exciting activities, including how rocks and minerals are used in our daily lives, ways to re-think and re-use metal, and a sneak peak at real Olympic medals — thanks to Teck.

Eagle Ridge ElementaryThe learning continued at school with a visit from Sheila Stenzel and Laura Estrada of MREP Vancouver, who supported further mineral exploration with magnets, magnifying glasses and computer research. The children’s curiosity guided our investigation to the origins and history of coal mining in Canada. They were introduced to folk songs from Cape Breton’s Men of the Deeps Choir and Ian Wallace’s story about The Boy of the Deeps. The children also worked closely with their big buddies to dig up soil samples and later design unique patterns on strips of paper, which evolved into an interactive cross-section of the earth’s layers, coal seams and diamond deposits.

Weeks of sharing fiction and non-fiction books, talking about fathers and sons, and playing at the “coal wall” and under tables, resulted in an impromptu drama performance. With a few props and camera in hand, movement was set to the haunting ballad “A Miner and A Miner’s Son,” and the children re-enacted the story of little James and his coal mining ‘Da’. The children’s ability to work together and engage quickly showed a deep understanding of their learning and what makes Canada great — its people and its industry, its energy and its heart, its natural gifts and strong origins. I have no doubt that when these youngsters watch themselves at play on DVD, they will recall something rather momentous about mining and their kindergarten year thanks in part to their trip to Mining in Society at the CIM Conference and Exhibition 2010.

~ Mary Ringwald, kindergarten teacher, SD43 Coquitlam (July 2010)

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