InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Student Materials
InTeGrate's 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 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.
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The student materials are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the instructor materials are available from this location on the instructor materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

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For the Instructor

These student materials complement the Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.

Student Materials

Welcome to the student page for the Human's Dependence on Mineral Resources module! Although you may not know it, mineral resources are mined and used in almost every product you use, and even several that you eat. Because mineral resources are used to make things, mining depends on factors such as economics, existing and new technologies, amounts of material recycling and use, and population. The extraction and use of resources also has consequences, some beneficial and some harmful. These consequences affect a variety of people in different parts of the world, at the time these mineral resources are mined as well as in the future. The geologic processes that form mineral deposits create resources that are often finite and unevenly distributed. Therefore, managing the demand and use of mineral resources has been and will continue to be a global challenge.

Unit 1: People, Products, and Minerals

Unit 1 defines mineral resources, addresses their uses (and investigates patterns of resource use), and gives an introduction to the processes that form these resources (aka the rock cycle). The final part of this unit relates mineral resources to consumption, economic development, and common uses.

Additional Resources

Unit 2: Boom and Bust: How Econ 101 Relates to Rocks

Unit 2 deals with how economics drives mineral resource extraction (mining and processing), stressing that minerals are mined to satisfy consumer demand. There is no general reading for this unit; however, you are encouraged to study and attempt to understand the concept map before class.

Read these if your instructor has chosen the REE option for Unit 2

Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts

Unit 3 addresses how mineral resources are mined and processed, how these processes affect the land and ecosystems, and influence, and are influenced by, economic and societal factors.

Additional Resources

"The World's Largest Recorded Mining Blast" from the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Credit: Jim Cole Productions. Courtesy of Australian Mining, Cirrus Media Pty Limited. https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/the-worlds-largest-recorded-mining-blast-video-2/.

Unit 4: Resources Created by Sedimentary Processes

In Unit 4, the rock-forming processes that create mineral resources are revisited. The background materials cover the sedimentary processes that create some desirable mineral resources. Information about the places and resources discussed during activities are included in the Additional Resources section below.

Additional Resources

Unit 5: Resources Created by Igneous and Metamorphic Processes

Unit 5 continues to explore rock-forming processes and addresses economic mineral resources created by mostly igneous processes, specifically metallic sulfide deposits formed by hydrothermal processes.

Additional Resources

    • Watch Hydrothermal Vents (3:53 minutes) showing how hydrothermal vents deposit sulfide minerals on the ocean floor.

Unit 6: Mining, Society, and Decision Making

As a wrap-up to this module, Unit 6 examines implications of mining (positive and negative) for people and the environment. There are two options for activities done in class, and the materials used to prepare for class differ depending on the option your instructor chooses.

Read these if your instructor has chosen the Phosphorus Option for Unit 6

Read these if your instructor has chosen the Gold Option for Unit 6

Everyone should read/watch:

  • Read Gold. (Acrobat (PDF) 1019kB Jan16 14) Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Watch A Modern Day Gold Mine (about 6 minutes).
    • If this site is no longer working, try these instead:
      • The Process of Excavating and Refining Gold (about 5 minutes) or How Gold Is Produced (about 8 minutes).
        How Gold Is Produced. Courtesy of the Newmont Mining Corporation with permission from Derek Sikes.

If you have been assigned into Group 1, then you should also read/watch:

If you have been assigned into Group 2, then you should also read/watch:

If you have been assigned into Group 3, then you should also read/watch:

If you have been assigned into Group 4, then you should also read/watch:



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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 »