InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts > Activity 3.1 - Muffin Mining
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
showLearn More
These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »
How to Use »

New to InTeGrate?

Learn how to incorporate these teaching materials into your class.

  • Find out what's included with each module
  • Learn how it can be adapted to work in your classroom
  • See how your peers at hundreds of colleges and university across the country have used these materials to engage their students

How To Use InTeGrate Materials »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

Activity 3.1 - Muffin Mining

Leah Joseph (Ursinus College)

This overall idea for this activity (muffin mining) was obtained from numerous online examples of muffin/cookie mining.
Author Profile

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Note: this activity is basically the same as the "cookie mining" activity that has been successfully done at the upper grade school/early middle-school level. It models many aspects of mining including economic concerns and reclamation/remediation. For HS students, this discussion can be adjusted/extended to meet the sophistication of the students and to address some of the more complex SEPs, such as HS-PS7.1. It addresses the PE HS-ESS3.2 at a simple level from a modeling perspective.

Science and Engineering Practices

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence. HS-P7.4:

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues HS-P7.1:

Developing and Using Models: Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system HS-P2.3:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Systems and System Models: Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. HS-C4.3:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Natural Resources: All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors. HS-ESS3.A2:

Performance Expectations

Earth and Human Activity: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios. HS-ESS3-2:

  1. This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

    • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
    • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
    • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
    • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
    • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

  2. 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 http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014

Summary

This activity is intended to fill the first part of a class period on mining and mining impacts. It is a hands-on activity in which students, in small groups, "mine" the blueberries or chocolate chips out of a muffin. This activity helps to review the reading materials and facilitate discussion about mining and mining methods, waste, beneficiation, landscape destruction, reclamation methods, and more.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:
  • Describe different mining methods, the conditions under which they are used, and their impacts.
  • Explain the purpose of beneficiation and the importance/challenges of managing mining-related waste products.
  • Explain challenges to reclamation and remediation.

Context for Use

In this approximately 30-minute hands-on activity, students in an introductory geoscience course review concepts related to mining processes and their potential challenges and impacts. The activity and the included discussion questions help students review and comprehend material presented in the background reading.

Ideally, students should have also already completed the Unit 3 Background Reading and homework on the Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List.

Students should work in small groups (2–5 students) on this in-class activity.

Description and Teaching Materials

The general steps of the muffin mining activity include:
  • Students divide into small groups (ideally 2–3 students).
  • Each group is given a muffin (and warned not to eat it) and some mining/exploration "tools" (e.g., clear straws, spoons, toothpicks, etc.).
  • Groups are asked to locate and "recover" their ore (e.g., blueberries) within a certain amount of time.
  • Once the mining is completed, students should try to restore their muffin to look like (and feel like) it did prior to mining.
  • Guiding questions for the students are provided (below) for small-group or whole-class discussion. Answers, along with explicit ties to the background reading, are provided in the Instructor Notes file linked below.
  • During the activity, student groups could be asked to report (list on the board) their percentage of ore recovered vs. waste product vs. undisturbed bedrock. They could then later be able to compare the class results and the methods each group used and why the groups percentages varied (or not).
  • Once completed, the whole class should discuss the ideas presented in the background reading/PowerPoint as they pertain to this activity as a means of reflection and review.

Instructor Notes on Muffin Mining Activity in Word


This file is only accessible to verified educators. If you are a teacher or faculty member and would like access to this file please enter your email address to be verified as belonging to an educator.

and
in PDF.


This file is only accessible to verified educators. If you are a teacher or faculty member and would like access to this file please enter your email address to be verified as belonging to an educator.

Detailed step-by-step instructions and the answer key for the muffin mining activity.

Guiding Questions for Students for Muffin Mining Activity in Word (Microsoft Word 43kB Oct4 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 96kB Oct4 14) Questions to guide the students in their reflections during and after the muffin mining process. In the interest of time, students should simply discuss (not write down the answers to) the questions, and use these answers to contribute to the whole-class discussion at the activity's conclusion. Or, groups can mine their muffins without seeing the questions, and these questions could be used by the instructor to guide the whole-class discussion. This file has been written for activities using one or two blueberry muffins and will need to be edited slightly based on the number and type of muffins used.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Warn the students not the eat the muffin until the activity is fully completed (otherwise it might be hard to estimate percentages or try to restore the muffin landscape!).
  • This activity could also be completed with cupcakes or cookies.
  • This activity should take approximately 30 minutes as written; if instructors have more time, they can allow the students more time to work with their muffins and to calculate their data, and for the wrap-up/background review discussion.
  • Other calculations could be added if an instructor has additional time. For example, students could be asked to weigh the waste rock and the recovered ore and could calculate a concentration factor, then determine what metals are found in similar concentrations, then determine the amount of waste rock created by mining some of that real metal, etc.
  • The instructor could skip this activity if it is not feasible for their particular classroom. They can either expand the Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation Activity (as described therein) or complete the alternative Gallery Walk version of the Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List pre-unit homework (as described therein).
  • See the Instructor Notes (linked above) for additional (and more specific) teaching notes.

Assessment

Assessments and Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes are addressed by the activity questions as listed below:

  • Describe different mining methods, under what conditions they are used, and their impacts: Guiding Questions 1A (1 and 2); Guiding Questions 1B (1, 2, and 4); Guiding Questions 2 (3 and 5); Concept Map.
  • Explain the purpose of beneficiation and importance/challenges of managing waste products: Guiding Questions 1A (3 and 4); Guiding Question 1B (3); Guiding Questions 2 (3 and 4); Concept Map.
  • Explain challenges to reclamation and remediation: Guiding Question 1A (5); Guiding Questions 1B (4 and 5); Guiding Questions 2 (1 and 2); Concept Map.

If completed as a written activity, answers to guiding questions (on the student handout) could be graded individually or based on thoroughness. A class discussion could be used to assess overall, although not individual, understanding.

At the end of the Instructors Notes documents linked above, a additional question is provided, asking the students to sketch a concept map of the processes described in the unit thus far. This question can be assigned to individuals or small groups and also used as an assessment tool.

References and Resources

  • A good reading for students or background information for instructor on mining metals: Metal Mining and the Environment by Hudson et al. (1999) American Geological Institute.
  • There are many examples and variations of this activity online (complete an online search using "Muffin Mining" as your search terms). Some are more quantitative than others.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to M. Porrini for bringing this exercise to my attention many years ago.

Teaching Themes

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »