On July 7 and 8, 2015 the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) participated in the Tohono O’odham Summer Youth Mining Education Days. The first day of the event took place in the Tohono O’odham San Xavier District, with elementary and middle school students. The second day took place in the Tohono O’odham Sif Oidak District with high school students. Altogether, about 60 tribal youths, ranging from ages 9 to 18, were engaged on issues relating to mining.
The UA SRP was invited to participate in the event by Laurie Suter, the Mineral Resources Administrator in the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Department of Natural Resources Mining Office. Our group interacted with Suter to modify our Tribal Educational Mining Modules content and hands-on activities to suit a younger audience.
The UA SRP designed a presentation and hands-on activities to introduce the concepts of copper mining and processing, environmental impacts, and mining reclamation, as well as career and higher education options for tribal students. Students young and old enjoyed the “muffin mining and reclamation” activity, in which they were given pretend money with which to buy a mine (muffins containing fruit or nuts worth varying amounts), mining equipment (assorted utensils), and remediation materials (including frosting for use as a “soil cap”). Karletta Chief and Denise Moreno Ramírez (Community Engagement Core), Sarah Wilkinson (Research Translation Core), and trainees Lydia Jennings, Juliana Gil-Loaiza, and John Hottenstein had a great time interacting with the students.
Additional activities in the 2-day event included “listening to the rocks” with Suter; a traveling mineral museum and hands-on activities by Pam Wilkinson, Education Outreach Coordinator for the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources; a presentation on mining careers by ASARCO Mission Complex; and mining equipment simulators hosted by Freeport-McMoRan, Inc.