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If you are looking for a unique way to spend a family vacation you may want to consider a trip to one of the many former mining towns of the Southwest. Many of these towns are known as ghost towns because very little remains of the town except for the shells and foundations of buildings that were once full of miners looking to find their fortune. A number of these towns have been turned into vacation resorts and amusement parks of sorts, offering a unique opportunity to experience a bit of life as it was centuries ago.
What can you expect to do on a trip to one of these former mining towns? Many of these towns feature some of the activities that initially drew so many to them in the first place. Some allow visitors to pan for gold or tour old gold mines. One of the big features of almost every mining town is an extensive set of railroad tracks, and many of these trains have been restored and provide visitors with a scenic trip through the town.
The Old West has much to offer in the way of family adventures. You may consider a wagon train trip to see what life was like for the first pioneers in this country. Another great plus of these kinds of trips is that they are usually relatively inexpensive compared to other kinds of family vacations, and they offer a great deal of educational benefits. A quick search on the Internet will pull up a number of mining towns that have been restored for visitors. Why not start planning a trip to one for your family today?
If you are a homeschooling mom, lessons about the mining industry might not be on your current lesson plans… but they should! Mining is a fascinating industry and learning about it can open doors to “dig deeper” (no pun intended!) into geology, history, and economics. So how can you teach children about mining? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
1. Take a Field Trip
The best way for kids to learn about mining is to see the operation up close. Many coal mines will allow you to tour the area with a special guide who can customize the information according to the ages and grades of your children. Your kids can see the equipment, touch the coal, and actually experience what it feels like to be down inside the cool, dark mines.
2. Start a Rock Collection
Part of mining is digging deep beneath the surface of the earth’s crust. As you teach about the various layers of the earth, you can introduce a variety of different rock formations. This is a great time to suggest that your kid start a rock collection. Create a diagram or a special book that shows pictures and descriptions of 15-20 different rocks. Then help your child search for as many of them as possible. You can label them and display them in a shadow box when you are finished.
3. Interview a Miner
To incorporate language arts into your mining lessons, arrange for your children to interview a miner. You can do this in person during your field trip or by phone if the field trip isn’t possible. Your child can then write a report about the interview and what he or she learned from the miner.
One of the problems that many of the students who are getting ready to graduate from high school face knows that the job market once they complete college might not be better than it is right now. As a result these students are thinking less about what their dream job would be, and more about what fields are going to be hiring once they have a college degree. One of the fields that today’s high school student should consider is something in the mining and mineral field. There are two reasons that this would be a good career choice.
Right now there is a shortage of people who are qualified to work in the mining and mineral field. Employers in the industry are being forced to hire people who really aren’t qualified for the job, as of right now it doesn’t look like there are enough students enrolled in the field to fill the demand.
The other reason the mining and mineral field is a sound choice is the startup salary. The average student who graduates with a mining and mineral Bachelor of Science degree can realistically expect earn a starting salary of about $65,000. There are only two other fields that have a higher average startup salary. Even though advanced degrees aren’t needed to work in the field, many people go back to get them because it drastically improve their earning potential, and sometimes the employer is even willing to help with tuition.
Many of the people who are starting to enter this area of study find that they can complete most of their educational requirements online which means they don’t have to worry about adding the high cost of student housing to their student loans.