Seventh grade students at Knoxville Middle School recently had the opportunity to tour mine reclamation sites around the county, to learn what it takes to convert former mine sites back into useable farm ground.
Randy Cooney, Project Coordinator of the Mines and Minerals Bureau of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, was contacted by seventh grade teacher Sara Finnegan about the mines. After previously presenting to the students, he set up a field day, involving rotating tour of three sites, each at a different stage of reclamation, for the students to visit on April 26.
“As the year has went on we have discussed the environment and ecology at length and have engaged in several activities to increase student awareness of these topics,” Finnegan said.
When the year of seventh grade Science is complete, students should know matter and energy together support life in an environment, living things within an ecosystem interact with one another and the environment (Students learn the terms abiotic and biotic factors.) and that humans and human population growth affects the environment.
They should also understand that living things meet their needs by interacting with the environment and each other for nourishment, reproduction, and protection; water and soil quality of an area affects the diversity of life in that area and can affect areas beyond the immediate location and they should be able to distinguish between different biomes.
Students should be able to identify and label the roles of living things in an ecosystem: producers, consumers, decomposers, predators, and prey; gather data and monitor the water quality of a local body of water and create a food web or food chain made up of organisms that would fit into our biome here in Knoxville.
Nearly 80 percent of the mines, like the ones showcased on the field day, are located in Marion and Mahaska Counties. The Goff Mine, south of Knoxville, has been featured during many of Cooney’s presentations to people throughout the state. The mine was also featured in a coal magazine last year.