Carrie Everson

Lesson Overview
Carrie Everson is a mostly forgotten figure in mining history. Her story is the basis of this LA STE investigation. Several possibilities are given for exploring the questions generated from this story. These include breaking down composite rocks, using several processes to separate minerals, learning the characteristics of the various minerals, and investigating the modern technology used in mining and manufacturing. The conclusion of the actual historical events of the Carrie Everson story can be read after students have engaged in the explorations.  

1. LA STEM Story:  The Carrie Everson Story

It is important to engage students in the story in order to spark their interest in the unit. Prompt students to ask questions and to note interesting information. You can use questions such as:

"What do you find interesting about the story?"

"What would you like to know more about?"

"What questions do you have from reading the story?"

For more information about how students can read the story go to Reading LA STEM Stories.

Students should record observations or questions in a notebook. See directions for the STEM Notebook here.

The Eversons had gold--they just couldn't find a way to retrieve it from the rubble left over from the traditional way miners separated the mineral from the rock. As science and technology have advanced, many kinds of separation techniques have been discovered. The following explorations are samples of the methods used in separating one mineral from another.

2. Choose any or all of the following exploration options:

A. Mechanical Process: Examine granite, gabbro, gneiss or similar rock with hand lens and pulverize with crusher.  Hidden iron is removed with magnet.

B. Water Process: Pan sand with "hidden" heavy metal.

C. Electrolysis: Remove copper from ore using electrolysis.

D. Chemical Extraction:  Match known crystals with unknown leached minerals. Leach minerals from a limestone chip and grow crystals

E. Oil Flotation:  Lift metal flakes from ore with soap and oil.

F. Static Separation: Use static electricity to remove certain mineral from a mixture.

G. Flame Tests: Use common household minerals to test color of a flame and compare to unknown minerals.

3. STEM Challenge for Students

Find rock or ore that looks interesting.  You can use anything near your home or use something you have found on a field trip.  You do not need a very large sample--maybe a piece about the size of an egg.  This sample will be your unknown.  Go through a set of processes to dissect the rock into its potential components.  Conduct experiments such as crushing, magnetic separation, sieving, panning, chemical extraction, electrolysis, and oil flotation. Detail the results of each process in the STEM Notebook.  Complete the STEM Challenge by assessing the potential for your sample as a source for precious minerals.  What processes were most successful and what would you do to make your methods suitable for a large mining and refining operation?