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Eager to Soak Up Knowledge, Picatinny Kindergarteners Learn How to Mine For Gems

Kindergarten Mine Gems
Gordon Cook, a retired mechanical engineer, shows kindergarteners
enrolled in Picatinny Arsenal’s Child Youth Service School Age Service program,
how to use a sluicing method to find the earth’s minerals.

Kindergarteners enrolled in Picatinny Arsenal’s Child Youth Services School Age Services program experienced firsthand what it is like to be a geologist during a class on May 23.

Gordon Cooke, a retired mechanical engineer, taught the class of 13 students the difference between minerals and rocks during the one-hour, hands-on demonstration.

Cooke retired from his position with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) in January after 39-years of service.

He now volunteers his time at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, and partnered with ARDEC’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,(STEM) Outreach Office to teach the children about mining and the purpose of each mineral mined.

Cooke provided each child with a bag full of sands. Hidden within the sand were gemstones that the children would be allowed to keep.

First, they had to learn about sluicing, or gently washing away the sand through a screen to reveal the hidden gems.

The children lined up around a pool filled with water and placed their bags of sand onto a screen, and lowered the contents into the water where they would shake the screen from side to side, slowly revealing the hidden treasures.

The minerals uncovered included Calcite, Fool’s Gold, Peacock Ore, and Quartz. Cooke then helped the children relate those minerals to everyday objects and practical uses such as pennies, concrete, and electrical conduits.

Event organizer Jody Bisceglia, a Management Analyst with ARDEC’s Human Capital Management Office, and mother of class member, 5-year-old Liano, said she felt a great sense of pride and connection between work and family.

“I feel there is a great benefit brought to my child as a result of the cooperation between ARDEC and Child Youth Services professionals,” Bisceglia said.

“The fact that we are able to reach our youngest school age children and influence them early on is remarkable. To be able to do this in our own backyard is even more exciting,” she said.

This was the second time during the school year that the kindergarteners participated in a STEM Outreach event.

In November 2016, the class learned about the interaction of cooking and chemistry.

Picatinny’s STEM Office often works with local middle and high schools in coordinating educational events, such as solar races, 3-D printing class, summer STEM programs and various robotics competitions.

Shannon Lee, assistant kindergarten teacher said that the instruction was a lot of fun for the children,who enjoy hands-on activities.

“I teach them science throughout the year,” Lee said.

“What are scientists? We build off that with classes on weather, animals, plants, Earth Day, the solar system, and the water cycle.”

“They are like little sponges, absorbing all the knowledge.”

-ERIC KOWAL, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs, 6/9/2017

Original article:
The Picatinny Voice