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'Mining' activity aims to help Sanibel students make connection

April 11, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel School's fourth-graders had a chance for some hands-on learning - by "mining."

On April 3, the students got to pan for rocks and minerals with the help of "BB" Brockman, from Diamond Del's Gem Mining. For 30 minutes, the youth swished their screened boxes in a trough of water, hoping to pull up some of the gems listed on the identification charts hung up in the trailer.

Teacher Terrie Kielborn-Jennings explained that it is about learning to identify them.

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One fourth-grader compares her find to the ID chart as her classmates look on.

"We're studying rocks and minerals," she said, noting that the students do not score particularly well when it comes to the subject material. "When you do something, that's when you understand it."

"So, they're mining like they did back in the day," Kielborn-Jennings said.

Teacher Julie Wappes noted that it is the first time the school has offered the program.

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"This is just a real enrichment activity that we were able to offer with the curriculum," she said.

The students will later classify the finds based on things like color, hardness and luster.

"They get to keep the rocks they find," Wappes said.

She noted that the students will also write about the experience for an assignment.

"To make that connection," Wappes said.

A third teacher, Laura Wolf, also participated in setting up the activity.

Kyler Kouril, one fourth-grader, called the opportunity fun.

"It's cool seeing all these cool shiny gems," he said.

One of the stones he found was a tiger's eye.

"Which I really wanted to get," Kyler said, adding that he likes its design and colors.

"I learned about a lot of different gems and minerals I didn't know about," he said of the activity.

Fourth-grader Alana Vandenbrink also described the experience as fun.

"I liked all the pretty stones you could get," she said.

Alana was hoping to find both a quartz crystal and hematite.

"They're very pretty," she said, adding that she might make jewelry from of her finds.

Asked about what she learned, Alana named pumice.

"It's the only stone that floats," she said.

According to Brockman, Diamond Del's Gem Mining currently operates in six states and visits approximately 90,000 youth per year. Marking its fourth year in Florida, it visits 19,000 annually.

For more information about the program, visit



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