How TACA aims to enhance public education of the industry

By |  December 11, 2019
Texas science teachers enjoy a tour of the Austin Core Research Center at the Bureau of Economic Geology during a TMRA Teacher Workshop. The award-winning educational workshops are offered each summer covering lignite, uranium and industrial minerals mining. Photo courtesy of TACA

Texas science teachers enjoy a tour of the Austin Core Research Center at the Bureau of Economic Geology during a TMRA Teacher Workshop. The award-winning educational workshops are offered each summer covering lignite, uranium and industrial minerals mining. Photo courtesy of TACA

The Texas Aggregates & Concrete Association (TACA) will partner with the Texas Mining & Reclamation Association (TMRA) in 2020 on its award-winning teacher workshop program.

Through the program, Texas teachers learn science-based information on the availability, importance and development of the state’s natural resources.

TACA will augment the industrial minerals workshops by updating and expanding the curriculum to provide more relevant and accurate information on the work of TACA members.

According to TACA, more than 1.5 million students have heard the story of Texas mining and reclamation through the program, with more than 1,500 teachers attending since 1991. Each teacher reaches about 130 to 150 students annually, the association says.

“TACA is a great partner for TMRA, with our industries and members having very similar and overlapping goals,” says Ches Blevins, executive director of TMRA. “Together, we achieve an even stronger and more unified voice to represent mining in Texas. TMRA and TACA believe that providing verifiable and unbiased information on the value of our industries to our teachers and students in a consistent and understandable way is absolutely vital.”

About the program

During the week-long session, teachers participate in hands-on labs, visit the Bureau of Economic Geology and tour a quarry, reclamation areas and industrial minerals mining facilities, including a cement plant. They also learn about future employment opportunities in the mining industry for their students.

Teachers then return to the classrooms with earth science facts and real-world, problem-solving activities that encourage students to use critical thinking skills.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our two associations to work together to help educate teachers about the vital natural resources, including sand, gravel and crushed stone, that help build our state’s infrastructure,” says David Perkins, president of TACA. “TMRA’s Teacher Workshops are known as the gold standard within the industry. We are honored to be a part of the program and look forward to many important contributions.”

During a workshop, each teacher receives 40 to 45 hours of professional development taught by scientists, academics and accredited industry professionals. The program is aligned with state requirements, meeting the majority of new education standards for earth science through all grade levels, providing a vehicle for teachers to receive firsthand knowledge of how natural resources are developed and used. It augments education requirements, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the corresponding State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

Workshop participants leave with curriculum, e-logs and cross sections, instructional and informative PowerPoints and activity equipment – all of which can be used in their classrooms. TMRA has assisted and provided advice to several other organizations to establish similar programs.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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