Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Thursday, November 9th, fifth-grade students at Cedar Hill Prep enjoyed the day out at Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, N.J. The excitement began as the bus approached the high steel conveyor belts that had once carried zinc to fifty-foot stacks in the small mining town. Students were eager to enter the infamous steel vault doors that led to a new world underground. Did you know that this mine goes as deep as if you had two Empire State Buildings stacked beneath the Earth? The students learned the role humans play in changing Ecosystems in a permanent way and compared the need for the zinc with the change to the natural environment.
Science was shared with Social Studies on this cross-curricular trip with a deep discussion on the life miners and their families had to endure in a small community reliant on one business at its core. What role did children have in the mines when their fathers could not work because of illness or injury? What was a student’s education requirement in a town of miners? What was the priority of a child in a family? How hard were the living conditions? Students pondered these questions as we went deeper into the shafts. Daylight at the end of the underground tour culminated with the experience of fluorescent minerals under a black light, and a fun search for six specific types of rocks to put in their souvenir boxes. The weather was crisp and the autumn day was colorful with mountains, mines, and group discussions covering a wide spectrum of new knowledge as we took a step back in time.