Pedagogy in Action > Library > Teaching with SSAC > Examples > Mined-Over Matter: Remembering Copper Mining at Keweenaw National Historic Park, Upper Peninsula Michigan

Mined-Over Matter: Remembering Copper Mining at Keweenaw National Historic Park, Upper Peninsula Michigan

Module by: Judy McIlrath, University of South Florida

Cover Page by: Judy McIlrath, Len Vacher, and Denise Davis, University of South Florida

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

This page first made public: Aug 10, 2009

This material was originally developed by Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


This Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum module introduces Geology of National Parks students to the history of copper mining in the Keweenaw region along the shores of Lake Superior, Michigan. The module briefly covers the geologic setting of the copper deposits, the uses and need for copper, the economic value of the copper produced by the mining, and the legacy of abandoned mines and a present-day Superfund site. Along the way, students complete short, ad hoc spreadsheets to answer questions involving the grade of the ore, the volume of rock mined to obtain the 15.5 billion pounds of copper that was produced, the profits generated by the copper by 1925, and the value of those dollars today taking account of inflation between then and now.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number NSF DUE-0836566. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Learning Goals

Slide 3 of the module.

Students will:

In the process, students will:

Context for Use

Slide 6 of the module.
This module is designed for potential use in the Geology of National Parks service course at USF. The course is offered as an online course every semester. It includes readings from Parks and Plates, weekly quizzes based on that textbook, and weekly student activities designed to align the course with the University's general education requirements. This module is intended to be one of those activities, with the specific goal of meeting the gen-ed quantitative literacy dimension.

Description and Teaching Materials

Slide 8 of the module.

The module is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded spreadsheets. Click on the link below to download a copy of the module.

Optimal results are achieved with Microsoft Office 2007 or later; the module will function in earlier versions with slight cosmetic compromises. If the embedded spreadsheets are not visible, save the PowerPoint file to disk and open it from there.

The above PowerPoint presentation file is the student version of the module. It includes a template for students to use to complete the spreadsheet(s) and answer the end-of-module questions, and then turn in for grading.

An instructor version is available by request. The instructor version includes the completed spreadsheet. Send your request to Len Vacher ( by filling out and submitting the Instructor Module Request Form.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The module is constructed to be a stand-alone resource. It can be used as a homework assignment, lab activity, or as the basis of an interactive classroom activity. It was used as an out-of-class activity in a senior-elective course, Environmental Geology of the National Parks (for geology majors and nonmajors), during development of the module in Spring 2010, and as an out-of-class activity in Computational Geology (a QL course for geology majors) in Fall 2010 and Fall 2011. In general, the students considered this module to be one of the more elementary modules in the collection. It is now one of the modules that is rotated into the online introductory-level Geology of National Parks course.


There is a slide at the end of the presentation that contains end-of-module questions. The end-of-module questions can be used to examine student understanding and learning gains from the module. Pre/post test, pre/post test answer key, and answer key for end-of-module questions are at the end of the instructor version of the module.

References and Resources


US National Park Service (NPS)

Keweenaw National Historical Park


Keweenaw National Historical Park: Quincy Smelter

Help Save the Quincy Smelter

NPS: Abandoned Mineral Lands

US Environmental Protection Agency: National Priorities List (NPL)

US Environmental Protection Agency: Superfund Program for Hazardous Waste Sites

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