On April 30, 2015, the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) participated in Earth Day Events at Tohono O’odham High School (TOHS). Associate investigator Dr. Karletta Chief, Community Engagement Core Coordinator Denise Moreno Ramírez, and trainee Kimberly Danny were on hand to provide support to Laurie Suter, the Mineral Resource Administrator of the Tohono O’odham Nation Mining Office. Since 2014, Suter has been collaborating with the UA SRP Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores to bring UA SRP mining expertise and educational resources to tribal stakeholders. Using the UA SRP’s Mining and Environmental Educational Modules for Tribal Colleges as a template, this team has been working to adapt the module content and activities for younger audiences. For the Earth Day event, Suter developed a modified version of the “Copper Mining and Processing” lecture and “Muffin Mining” hands-on activity for tribal high school students. Students were given “capital” and had to make decisions about how to best invest it, purchasing “land” (a muffin) and tools with which to dig for “ore” (fruit and nuts which paid out differently). Next, they had to invest in remediation supplies and try to return the muffin to its original shape.
The UA SRP group had a great time working with the students as well as supporting the activities of Suter and the Tohono O’odham Nation Mining Office. “This is what the modules were designed for,” said Moreno Ramírez. “It was exciting to see Laurie adapt our presentations and activities for her own unique audience.”
The all-day event in San Simon, AZ was coordinated by the Tohono O’odham Nation Environmental Protection Office, with a theme of “all creatures great and small, insects, and animals, the earth needs them all.” Students were divided into groups which rotated through various environment-related activities and lectures. Reporting on the event, the Eagle News, the TOHS student newspaper, declared the muffin mining activity to be one of the “favorite presentations” of the day!