[Northern Manitoba] Students drill down into minerals and mining – by Ian Graham (Thompson Citizen – February 19, 2014)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.

Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada brings its Mining Matters to Thompson and Nelson House

Students and teachers in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Thompson learned about minerals and mining from Feb. 10-14 as Mining Matters, in partnership with Vale’s Manitoba Operations, swept through Northern Manitoba to present its Mining Rocks Earth Science program, sponsored by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in Toronto.

“This is incredible,” said Barbara Green Parker, the aboriginal education and outreach programs manager for Mining Matters, a charitable organization in existence since April 30, 1997 that seeks to spread knowledge about Canada’s geology and the careers available in the country’s minerals industry. “This is the largest Mining Matters program that we have ever done. We are maximizing our exposure in Northern Manitoba. It’s a phenomenal amount. We’re very pleased to be in such high demand.”

Parker was in NCN at Nelson House on Feb. 10-11, presenting the Mining Rocks program to students from Grades 4 to 8 at Otetiskwin Kiskinwamahtowekamik Elementary School on Monday and to high school students at Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate on the morning of Feb. 11, with the afternoon dedicated to a teacher training workshop.

Wednesday saw the Mining Rocks program presented to 14 YouthBuild members aged 17 to 24 at the Boys & Girls Club of Thompson and then to Thompson teachers at a professional development conference. The last two days of the Mining Matters Northern Manitoba tour saw the Mining Rocks program delivered to Grade 5-8 students at Juniper Elementary School on Feb. 13 and to Grade 7 and 8 students at Wapanohk Community School on Feb. 14. All told, the program was expected to reach 550 teachers, youth and students over the course of five days.

Parker says the Mining Rocks program ties in with Manitoba’s Earth science curriculum and makes use of local examples.

“We talk specifically about the geology here in Manitoba with glaciation and the effects of that as well as the interesting rock formations,” said Parker. “Manitoba has amazing geology. When you’re in the north like we are here you have all these great deposits. It’s really great to take our program and use examples people recognize.”

Although the information is scientific, Parker says the program is designed to grab students’ interest and relate the subject matter to their everyday lives.

“We give them rocks and minerals,” she said. “It’s all hands-on activities.”

Students also play games like matching minerals to the end products that use them.

“Students understand IPods and computers but don’t know about metals,” she said, noting that despite the presence of a large nickel mine in Thompson, many students in the area are not sure what that metal is used for in industry.

In addition to the science, the Mining Rocks program also includes information about mining and mineral industry careers.

“There’s a shortfall of workers in the mining industry,” says Parker, with as many as 100,000 jobs needing to be filled in Canada over the next 10 years.

That aspect is of interest to Vale.

“This program is a perfect fit for our Northern Employment Strategy in that it will raise awareness and engagement within the education system and amongst our future workforce,” said Ryan Land, manager of corporate affairs and organizational development for Vale’s Manitoba Operations. “Our goal is to continue to increase our hiring within Thompson and the region, and this will assist in achieving this goal.”

The learning continues after the Mining Rocks program, which will also be delivered in the Sudbury, Ontario region and around Voisey’s Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador this spring. Teachers and schools who participate are provided with teaching resources so the mineral science lessons can continue.

“It’s really a neat program,” said Parker. “We’re really enjoying ourselves here.”

She also said the students seemed to feel the same way.

“They were very excited about the program,” she said. “The kids were very bright and engaged.”

Surveys done with participants at the conclusion of the program indicated that more than 80 per cent learned something new about minerals and found the program interesting, while 30 per cent said they had greater interest in science and engineering and pursuing careers in those fields and the mining industry than before completing the program.

“We’re very happy with those results,” said Parker.

Mining Matters is a charitable organization that seeks to increase awareness of Canada’s geology and mineral resources and about the careers available in the mining industry.

BARBARA GREEN PARKER OF PDAC’S MINING MATTERS

This is incredible,” said Barbara Green Parker, the aboriginal education and outreach programs manager for Mining Matters, a charitable organization in existence since April 30, 1997 that seeks to spread knowledge about Canada’s geology and the careers available in the country’s minerals industry. “This is the largest Mining Matters program that we have ever done. We are maximizing our exposure in Northern Manitoba. It’s a phenomenal amount. We’re very pleased to be in such high demand.”

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