Mining is a complex process in which relatively small amounts of valuable or useful minerals or metals are extracted from very large masses of rock. This activity will illustrate how this "needle in a haystack" process works.
- Wild bird food - any commercial bird seed mix with sunflower seeds and at least 2 other seed varieties
- Shallow pans (inexpensive plastic paint pans work good)
- Small beads (approximately 2mm) blue, gold and silver
- Divide students into groups of 4 to 6.
- Pour approximately 1 pound of birdseed in each pan.
- Add 2 gold beads, 4 silver beads, and 8 blue beads to each pan - mix into birdseed.
- Students search through the seed mixture and separate out or "mine" beads, sunflower seeds, and other grain products, making piles of each. Allow 5 minutes for the mining activity.
- The beads and seeds represent the following:
- Gold Beads = Gold
- Silver Beads = Silver
- Blue Beads = Copper
- Sunflower Seeds = Iron
- Other Grains = Lead/Zinc
- Light-colored millet = Waste
- Assign a value for each type of bead or seed.
- Examples as follows:
- Gold Beads = Gold = $5.00 each
- Silver Beads = Silver = $4.00 each
- Blue Beads = Copper = $3.00 each
- Sunflower Seeds = Iron = $2.00 each
- Other Grains = Lead/Zinc = $1.00 each
- Light-colored millet = Waste = $0.00
- Have the students count up the beads and seeds from each pile and multiply the numbers of each by their values given in #6.
- Have each group total up the dollar value of their "mining" operation and share their success with the other groups.