DMITRE Minerals

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Lectures and Workshops

Lectures, demonstrations and activities are offered to schools and community groups. Themes available include:

The content of lectures, demonstrations and activities can be altered and tailored depending on the needs of specific groups.

Specifically requested topics may be negotiated according to your topic and curriculum needs.

Professional Development Workshops

Workshops are available on any of the lecture and workshop topics. Other professional development workshops include:

  • The use of the Australian Gold Serif award-winning educational kit 'Resources - Working for the Right Balance'
  • Remote sensing
  • Applications of physics to bore hole logging

Other workshop topics may be arranged upon request.


Minerals 


Crystals (for years 5 to 12)

  • Is it true that crystals form naturally in the ground, even though they have shiny, smooth flat surfaces and sparkle with the colours of the rainbow?
  • Can humans make them too?
  • What is it about crystals which makes them so attractive? Is it their regularity, or their transparency?
  • So why can nature make these gems?

Find the answers to these questions and more with our Crystals workshop.

 

Mineral identification (for years  5 to 11)

What mineral is that? (How many times have you been asked that question by your students?)

Not a simple question to answer. This practical workshop takes students through a set of simple observations and the use of classification tables to enable junior mineralogists to identify and name most new mineral samples - a useful set of skills for rock hounds starting their own collection.

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Fossils


Fossils: Dead bodies can talk! (for years 3 to 12)

Museums and university have fabulous collections of fossils, but visitors cannot touch them because they are rare, fragile and very valuable.

Many budding junior palaeontologists in your classroom will be unearthed if you ask for this hands on workshop to be brought to your school.

Students will:

  • experience the mysteries of fossil 'Dig Sites' from all over the world
  • try their hand at gently brushing away the dirt covering the pieces and putting the fossil jigsaw puzzles together
  • learn first hand the processes of anatomical comparison
  • learn about the plants and animals which have lived on earth
  • learn techniques of age dating rock samples
  • get to handle fossils of both carnivorous and herbivorous titans of the Jurassic animal world.

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The earth, earthquakes and volcanoes


Gravity (for years 10 to 12)

Gravity, along with other geophysical methods is used as a method of finding large mineral ore deposits hidden from sight beneath the earth's surface.

Using a pendulum, students can measure the acceleration caused by gravity, learn about factors which can affect its value and learn how to make compensations for these factors.

 

Earthquake safety (for years 3 to 12)

Is the Earth a gigantic blob of rock that sits in space and does nothing?

The Earth is literally bursting with energy from within.

For millions of years it has been making heat energy which has driven the pushing and pulling of the thin brittle crust that we now live on and suffer the age long shake, rattle and roll of earthquakes!

Students will:

  • see and use a seismograph
  • learn to interpret a seismogram
  • record their heartbeat with the seismometer
  • use 'SHAKER' the earthquake making machine to test the design of buildings in order to make them more earthquake resistant
  • learn about the difficulties of predicting earthquakes and their intensity.

 

Earthquakes and volcanoes (for years 4 to 11)

Are earthquakes and volcanoes related? Well, yes and no.

Earthquakes usually precede volcanic eruptions as magma rumbles its way through underground vents, pumping up the volcano, causing it to swell, and finally erupt.

Earth crustal movements (driven by the earth’s 'heat engine') cause the brittle crust to break apart sending earthquake shock waves out, making the earth ring like a bell.

These fractured crustal rocks, we call faults, can sometimes provide a passageway for magma to make its way to the surface and start up a brand new Volcano. However much of the time the faults just remain areas of movement.



Volcanoes (for years 4 to 11)

So you think there are no volcanoes in South Australia - think again!

They may not have been active in recent times but local Aboriginal mythology tells of explosions, fire and lightning coming out of the belly of Mount Schank and several other volcanoes around Mt Gambier.

Junior volcanologists will:

  • learn about why some volcanoes erupt relatively quietly while others are explosive
  • handle pieces of lava
  • learn how eruptions may be predicted
  • see a demonstration of an eruption.

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Exploration and the mining industry


Minerals and their sustainable uses (for reception to year 10)

You probably know that roads, concrete and cars are made from minerals ... but did you know that some medicines, cosmetics, jewellery and energy forms are made from minerals?

For example:

  • baby powder is made from talc, a mineral which forms deep underground at scorching temperatures
  • Kaolin clay is used in medicines to stop diarrhoea
  • radioactive minerals are used to treat some forms of cancer.

This topic showcases a variety of earth materials, considering:

  • their uses in everyday life
  • how future strategies for sustainable use may need to be considered, e.g. recycling and re-using
  • will earth material run out?
  • what are the alternatives?

 

The science of mining (for years 5 to 10)

Underground, open pit or leaching? These are ways of getting minerals of use to people out of the ground.

But how do the miners decide which is the best way, and can they change their mined later on?

Mining engineers plan, make and manage mines. They look at the results of drilling and computer modelling to discover the shape and position of ore bodies and then use this to decide whether open pit, underground shafts and tunnels or leaching is the easiest and safest way to get the minerals to the surface.

This presentation will:

  • take you underground as a Powder Monkey or Jumbo Drill operator to see:
    • how rock bolts stop tunnel cave-ins
    • the biggest remote controlled front end loader scoop tonnes of rock to be taken to crushers 500 metres underground
  • show how mining engineers use science to plan and develop a mine to get the useful minerals from the earth
  • provide the answer to the question, 'Is it true that Environmental Management plans have to be approved by the Government before any mining is allowed?'
  • make students aware of the problems mining engineers have to solve - explosive and toxic gases, flooding groundwater, cave-ins, dust, heat and impenetrable darkness - before it is safe for underground miners to face a days work.

 

The science of finding underground mineral deposits (for reception to year 12)

Old time prospectors would search for that elusive 'pot of gold at the end of the rainbow' by listening to rumours and buying treasure maps, only to find that they were phoney!

Nowadays, modern scientific methods are used to find hints of buried mineral deposits. This presentation is an easy to follow demonstration of these modern methods using:

  • magnetic sensing
  • gravity
  • chemical sensing.

 

19th and 20th Century Mining (for senior geography classes)

South Australia's early colonial economy was largely dependant on pastoralists, farming and the mining of copper and gold. The latter attracted people of diverse ethnicity, who were to fashion our heritage and recent history.

These included hard working immigrants from Cornwall who were experts in underground mining methods, Argentine teamsters adept at working mule and bullock teams to haul the valuable ore minerals on the overland copper trails to port and many Chinese and Americans.

These were exciting and often hard times for the new settlers to eke out a living. The heritage of this mining past has left us with towns such as Kapunda, Wallaroo, Kadina, Burra and Blinman to name just a few.

  • How did these people know where to mine?
  • What happened when illness struck? Was there social security?
  • Why did they live in dug out rooms in river banks?
  • What of the 'Picky Boys'?
  • Did you know that Mount Osmond was the site of Australia's first underground silver-lead mine?

The education officer can show and tell you more about this fascinating period of history.

 

Gold fever (for years 3 to 9)

Was 'Gold Fever' a real health problem the old time prospectors really suffered from or was it just a saying about the miners' hopes of striking it rich one day?

Junior prosectors will:

  • learn about the characteristics of gold
  • use their new knowledge to pan for gold nuggets - the art of panning is to be able to tell the difference between fools gold and the genuine stuff.

All materials including gold pans and special 'gold' bearing river sediments will be provided, the school need only make available water and an outside area.

 

Laws and rules about mining (for  years 6 to 11)

  • Where can you mine and where can't you?
  • Who owns the minerals underground and who gets to share in the sale of those minerals?
  • Is it true that miners have to take care of the environment just like each and every one of us in our daily lives?

This presentation gives an overview of the 'Mining Act', the Government's set of rules and regulations written to guide miners on what they can and can not do when searching for or mining minerals.

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Environmental issues


Environmental management in the resources industry (for years 3 to 10)

Who can mine what from where, and when and how are they allowed to do this?

What happens to the plants and animals, soil and water in the mean time not to mention the people that own and live off that land now?

  • Learn about the work of Environmental Scientists
  • Explore the answers to these questions and more through a variety of visual and very interactive multi media games.

 

Radioactivity (years 5 to 11)

  • Is it natural? What is it? What does it do? Why does it exist?
  • Is it dangerous? Can it be handled safely? 
  • What is contamination? What does it do to people?
  • What is yellow cake?
  • What uses can this radiation be put to e.g. medicine , smoke detectors, gas camping lamps and bore hole logging?
  • How long does something stay radioactive for?
  • How can it be safely disposed of?

Find out the answers to these questions with this presentation.

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Oil, gas and energy


Energy (for years 3 to 9)

  • You can tell if a person is energetic, but is energy visible?
  • Can energy be stored or better still can it be changed from one form into another?

The answers to these questions and many more can be easily found by simple demonstrations and experiments brought to your classroom.

Students will be able to learn about:

  • renewable energy and fossil fuels
  • the contribution of carbon-based fuels to the greenhouse effect and consequent affect on sea levels
  • how to design an energy efficient house.

 

Oil and gas (for years 6 to 11)

This interactive session studies the important compenents that form the framework in which the petroleum industry works:

  • petroleum formation
  • search methods
  • community consultation
  • evironmental rehabilitation.

Interactive computer software and paper based problems are used to challenge students' problem solving skills. Senior students may wish to test their skills with the Kepler Case Study (for more information see the Teaching Resources section).

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Careers in Geoscience


Careers in the Geosciences (for years 4 to 12)

  • Are you curious how mountains form?
  • Would you like to know how star dust is recycled to make the bodies of humans?
  • Do you want to know how science and math is used to find the 'Pot of Gold' at the end of the rainbow?

The geosciences will give you insights into the secrets of rocks, fossils and crystals, and unravel the mysteries of why the earth has ice ages and volcanic eruptions. Most of all it will help you read the record in the earth's rocks just like a book, minus words.

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