InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts > Pre-Unit 3 Homework - Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List
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Pre-Unit 3 Homework - Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List

Leah Joseph (Ursinus College)
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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

Unit 3 is based on the readings and activities of this homework assignment that addresses mining methods, impacts of mining on the environment, and mitigation of these impacts. Critical reading of specific references is required for this assignment, as well as synthesis based on this research (a nice blending of CCC HS-C2.2 and SEP HS-P8.5)

Science and Engineering Practices

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Critically read scientific texts adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas and/or obtain scientific and/or technical information to describe patterns in and/or evidence about the natural and designed world(s). MS-P8.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. HS-C2.2:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Human Impacts on Earth Systems: Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. MS-ESS3.C2:

Human Impacts on Earth Systems: Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation. HS-ESS3.C2:

  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 optional homework asks students to investigate some of the impacts of previous mines, mining, and/or mineral resources processing on the surrounding environment and human health. Many of the sites were operated prior to significant changes in the U.S. regulation of mines that was instituted in the late 1960s. Through the investigation of an Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) National Priority List (NPL) website (aka Superfund), students will explore not only the impacts but also the amount of time, effort, and resources it takes to remediate the sites. This background can be referred to in later parts of the module when discussing mining in other countries where the regulations are not as stringent as those in the United States.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:

  • Describe how wastes are created and managed during the different stages of mineral resource production and what can be done to minimize the negative effects of mining and related processes.

Context for Use

This assignment is intended for use prior to the Unit 3 section on Mining and Mining Impacts to familiarize students with some of the negative impacts of the mining and mineral processing methodologies, especially in the absence of significant regulation. This homework can be assigned to individuals or pairs. Internet access and the ability to read online pdf documents is necessary. No prior knowledge is necessary, but it is important that students first complete the Unit 3 background reading (found here: Unit 3 Pre-Class Work) to provide exposure to the terminology they will need in this assignment.

This assignment is optional, as it may not fit into an instructor's allotted time. This assignment does work well as an alternative to the Muffin Mining activity, however, when the student discussion of this homework is done as an in-class Gallery Walk/Run as described below.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students are assigned an AML Superfund site to research and answer questions about.

Mining Methods and Impacts Pre-Class Homework in Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 157kB Oct4 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 231kB Oct4 14) Students should read and complete this handout.

Example AML and Superfund Sign-Up Sheet in Word (Microsoft Word 120kB Oct4 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 138kB Oct4 14) This example sign-up sheet includes all the AML/NPL sites that do not have particular complications. Remind students to note their selected site name, EPA Region number, and access information when they sign up so they can complete their homework.

Full List of AML and Superfund Sites in Excel (Excel 51kB Aug2 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 62kB Aug2 14) In case this is helpful to the instructor, this file lists all the different AML/NPL sites and their status, if they are currently accessible (as of 11/15/12), and if so, how students could access the file with appropriate information. It is derived from the EPA website NPL Sites. The sign-up sheet (above) is derived from this file.

Answer Key for AML and Superfund Pre-Unit 3 Homework in Word


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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.

This answer key provides possible answers to the three follow-up questions as well as information about what to do if the links do not work on the AML site.

Assignment alternative: Gallery Walk Version of AML and Superfund Pre-Class Homework in Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 137kB Oct4 14) and in PDF: (Acrobat (PDF) 98kB Oct4 14) This file describes a way for the students to wrap up the assignment in class as a Gallery Walk/Run (about 35 minutes of class time). The students still research an AML/NPL site for homework, but this replaces the overarching questions on the homework and provides an opportunity for interaction and discussion within the classroom. You can find information on Gallery Walks and their pedagogical benefits here: Gallery Walk.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • The Unit 3 background reading (found here: Unit 3 Pre-Class Work) will help students understand the terminology used on the website, so remind students to read it before starting this assignment.
    • Students may still struggle with the technical language in the Site Summaries. The intent is that the students will be able to find the information that they need even if they do not understand every word. The instructor may need to be available for questions, to provide guidance, and to encourage students to look up words in their own.
  • The AML/NPL sites vary in the amount of information they provide and the amount of description. The instructor should reemphasize to the students the level of detail they expect. Students should be encouraged to navigate around their site's web resources and to look into various files if they cannot find the needed information right away, but it is not the purpose of this assignment to have them read 100-page site write-ups.
  • The instructor could decide to limit the list of AML/NPL sites to particular regions, sites, or types of mining process/mineral, etc.
    • There are approximately 130 sites on the AML/NPL website (see Excel file above), although a few of them (less than 10) are not recommended for this activity due to lack of information or the complexity in tracking down the requested information.
    • Some of these AML/NPL sites are sites related to uranium mining. The instructor can decide whether to omit these sites as uranium may be dealt with in an energy section of the course.
    • For larger classes, more than one student can complete the write-up for a single site.
  • It is important for students to discuss their homework (results and impression) before continuing with the rest of the unit. Instructors could ask students to discuss their impressions of their sites, what types of contamination problems were experienced, how many students had sites where clean-ups were still ongoing, and what the downsides of increased regulation might be (slower mineral extraction/beneficiation, higher cost, etc.). The instructor can link the discussion to the Unit 3 reading, highlighting common points (e.g., acid mine drainage and remediation) as a way to also review those concepts.

Assessment

The assignment could be graded in a quick, "how thoroughly was this completed" way, or individual answers could be graded. Alternatively, the instructor could grade the table for thoroughness but the answers to summary questions more carefully.

References and Resources

  • The website that the students will be using is: EPA NPL Mining Sites.
  • If for some reason links on that website are not working, one may be able to find the NPL listing via the EPA Superfund site at EPA NPL Where You Live. The instructor's answer key (linked above) gives more instructions. Contacting the EPA directly with website/link issues may also be helpful.
  • Other sources of information include the EPA Abandoned Mine Lands and the EPA Superfund/NPL websites (and their links) including EPA Superfund AML, EPA NPL Basic Information, and EPA Superfund Basic Information.

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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 »