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The children were able to view a concrete agitator truck in full swing.
The children were able to view a concrete agitator truck in full swing.

Promoting the quarrying industry in our schools

One of the challenges for extractive operations is to inform local communities about the value and benefits of quarrying. Part of this challenge is to communicate the message early – and what better place to start than in the classroom? Paul Sutton reports.

The extractive industry is big. Huge in fact. There’s no doubt about that. From houses and their make-up materials, to roads and highways, and everything in between. Quarrying and extractive practices are responsible for the growth and continuation of societal development.

When it comes to future thinking, however, nothing can ever be guaranteed except the constant need for the extractive industry. What is responsible for the growth and development of the industry? What can be done to ensure its future and maintain the drive for growth and innovation?

An excellent place to start would be educating and inspiring the next generation. The generation that will continue in the footsteps of everyone who has contributed to the enormous growth of such a vital industry. That’s exactly the kind of thinking that James Rowe, the South Australian manager for Groundwork Plus, had in mind.

By making their own concrete and chip trays, the kids can learn how simple ingredients can produce aggregate.
By making their own concrete and chip trays, the kids can learn how simple ingredients can produce aggregate.

On 17 May 2017, James organised a visit to Redeemer Lutheran School in Nuriootpa, South Australia, to demonstrate the importance of concrete and other vital quarry products to a couple of year one classes. The learning “unit of inquiry” was one of six units that the kids would learn throughout the year as part of their curriculum. The unit of inquiry - “Products & Processes” – encourages and teaches children the importance of understanding not just products within their community but how they are applied into specific processes to deliver an outcome – in particular, how raw materials can be changed into functioning products to be used in everyday society. The demonstration provided a hands-on, practical way for the kids to learn the difference between gravel, sand and cement, and how with a dash of water, they can be turned into society’s most common and structural building material.

Nicole French, one of the teachers of the excitable class, explained the importance of practical visits such as these to the growth and understanding of her year one class. With quarrying being a non-renewable resource, she believes it’s important for her kids to understand the processes involved in constructing their communities and homes the way they are, and what can be done to maintain and sustain their precious environment.

The children were also pleasantly surprised by a visit from Robert Luccon from Hanson Construction Materials, who was accompanied by a concrete mixer (agitator) truck.

“The kids get to see physically how a concrete truck works, and how they assist in making concrete,” Robert said. He went on to explain that Hanson often has regular involvement in community programs, which has been beneficial to not only the development of younger generations, but to the understanding of the community in its entirety.

Amidst the excitement demonstrated by the classes, James had taken the liberty of bringing a range of quarrying materials – concrete sand (raw and washed), sandy loam, meta-siltstone, marble limestone, gravel, play pit sand and 10mm aggregate – so the kids could make their own concrete and chip trays. This activity taught the kids how simple ingredients can produce one of the most practical and important materials in society today.

“I believe that activities like we have seen today at Redeemer Lutheran School give the students an opportunity to dream of what they might enjoy doing once they leave their schooling journey,” James Rowe said. “Studies are now showing that kids as young as four years of age can relate to different activities of a learning nature, that potentially may or may not influence their future working opportunities.”

The children were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the Hanson agitator truck.
The children were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the Hanson agitator truck.

James was incredibly passionate about allowing the kids the opportunity to learn about his industry, and even have a go at it. “The school is really proactive in undertaking excursions within the local Barossa Valley community. Last week they went to the local dried fruit processor and pastry manufacturer.  The kids have gained an understanding of what businesses support each other in the food chain which is important. Additionally, in an era where schools (including Redeemer) have an increased focus from a technology perspective, by way of iPads and Smart Boards, I believe it is still important to provide the students with a natural environment to run around and have fun like we did in our youth.”

As a parent himself, James was more than happy to encourage creativity from the kids in this learning experience. “The kids had a great time mixing their raw materials and making their concrete,” he said. “The making of their own chip tray samples included the kids using fine motor skills as the chip tray partitions are quite small. They also had to follow instructions to try to ensure their resource chip tray mirrored the schematic that we provided.”

The day was an overall success, as the kids not only gained knowledge and understanding. They also took home their own resource chip trays and schematic, a descriptive quarry poster from the IQA detailing the step by step processes involved in producing materials, a Hanson drink bottle and for young Alana (above), a pink Groundwork Plus hard hat for being the student to guess how many quarries are located within the regional Barossa Valley area – there are 40.

The experience has proved the importance and benefits of quarries supporting their local communities and educating people where they can to gain a better understanding of the industry and ensure continuous growth and sustainability for the future.

Paul Sutton

Paul Sutton is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Quarrying Australia. To contact Paul, click here.

Thursday, 16 August, 2018 07:05am
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