InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Human's Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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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.
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Summary

Despite humans' heavy reliance on Earth's mineral resources, few think about where the products they use come from and what it took to produce them. This module addresses that disconnect by combining learning about rocks and minerals (and how these become the products students use), methods of mineral resource discovery and extraction, and the impact of mineral resource use. This module allows important geoscience concepts to be taught in the context of important and immediate societal issues while also asking students to confront human issues such as environmental justice, economics, personal choice, and politics that may arise due to obtaining, beneficiating, transporting, trading, using, and disposing of natural resources.

Strengths of the Module

Incorporates systems thinking inherent to the study of the rock cycle. It expands beyond the geosphere to include parts of the hydrosphere and atmosphere and how they are affected by mining.

Uses real-life examples of issues related to resource management and extraction for collaborative problem solving. These problems incorporate ideas from economics, social and environmental justice, and the geosciences.

Content is delivered using a variety of student-centered activities, including group discussions, concept mapping, jigsaws, and cooperative learning.

Several student activities are hands-on, developing skills including analysis of actual geoscience data, model-building, and hypothesis formation and testing.

The module is extremely flexible, allowing for reorganization of units and even picking and choosing only select activities and/or units.


A great fit for courses in:

  • economic geology
  • environmental science
  • environmental geology
  • introductory geology
  • geological hazards
  • global change
  • sustainability

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These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

This unit about Mineral Resources includes opportunities for exposure to basic geologic concepts about mineral and rock-forming processes and the role of plate tectonics in these processes. It addresses this content mostly in the context CCC4 (Systems and System Models) although it can also be used to bring in other CCCs such as Energy and Matter and Stability and Change. A variety of SEPs from SEP4 (Analyzing and interpreting data), SEP6 (constructing explanations), and SEP7 (engaging in argument from evidence), and SEP8 (obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information) are emphasized, although SEP2 (developing and using models) and SEP5 (using mathematics) are also required to a lesser extent. SEP1 (asking questions) and SEP3(planning and conducting investigations) are not addressed. Important PEs in ESS3,The Earth and Human Activity, are addressed directly by Unit 6, the capstone activity as well as some of the module's earlier activities.


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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 »