Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Here and Now"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
September 09, 2005
Podcasts

ARCHIVE: Nevada Mining - Children

Listen

McCaw School of Mines

McCaw School of Mines


Yesterday Ky Plaskon visited a Nevada Gold mine and explored some of the environmental controversy surrounding one of Nevada's most profitable industries. One way the industry maintains favor in the state is by donating to politicians like most industries do. Mining donated more than 4-million to congress and 100-thosand dollars to Nevada politicians last year. Another way mining companies gain favor is through educating children about the industry. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

SOUND: Hi kids, I'm Gus and I'm the head miner here . . .

PLASKON: On a hot morning in Henderson 2nd graders listen to an automated manikin at the mouth of a building that looks like a big rock. When the recording is over, a guide takes over.

GUIDE: The next thing we do is go into the active blasting area. This is where it is dark and I would like everyone to turn their lights on so that we can see better back in here.

PLASKON: The children put on hard hats with headlamps. The mine is like a haunted house, dark and scary. As the children pass through, their movement triggers the cackling of more manikins dressed as miners crouched in the rafters above them.

MANIKIN: Ha ha ha ha ha

CHILD: AAAH. There is nothing scary about you!

NELSON: He snuck up on you did he?

PLASKON: This is just one aspect of the McCaw School of Mines, a non-profit corporation offering field trips for children. The site is a replica of an old mining town.

GUIDE: 200 hundred foot level.

CHILDREN: Ahhhhhhhhhh!

PLASKON: The children pretend to ride in a mining elevator. It is actually a platform on a spring. They also watch a video featuring mining explosives.

VIDEO HOST: Wow, they sure made short work of that!

VIDEO MUSIC: Disco

VIDEO SOUND: Explosion

CHILDREN: Cool!

PLASKON: More than 40-thousand children have been through the school.

CHILD: I think that it's real cool.

CHILD2: This place is awesome.

PLASKON: This was one of the last groups of second graders to attend the mining field trip. The school district decided that second graders can't understand the message and field trips in general have declined.

HOLLOWAY: I do firmly believe that there are very few schools that have field trips anymore.

PLASKON: Clark County Education Association President Mary Ella Holloway says children in Clark County used to go on regular field trips to sites such as the Hoover Dam, bottling, bread, chocolate and marshmallow factories and plays at UNLV. But not anymore.

HOLLOWAY: Because the school district doesn't want to spend the money on the school buses for the field trips.

PLASKON: With less funding for field trips, corporately funded field trips are very tempting according to the school district. Coordinator Dorothy Webb says the field trip started up because Nevada history lessons about mining were difficult for children to grasp. Mining companies were eager to get their message out to children from the start.

WEBB: One child wrote a letter and said 'Dear Rich Person, would you give us some of your money.' That rich friend sent us 15-thousand dollars to get started.

PLASKON: Over the past eight years mining companies have invested 2 million dollars to build the school of mines. Every year they pay the 120-thousand dollar operating costs. The names of the companies that pay the school's bills are everywhere, including tractor maker CAT and Round Mountain Gold Corporation. Guides even point out the company names and then tell children how primitive life would be without these mining companies.

GUIDE: I would like to ask you one question though. If there was not a mine in the world today how would you get back to school? You would have to walk wouldn't you? There would be no bus. If you got home tonight, there would be no TV, no bicycle, mother is going to cook for you, there is no stove. Momma would have to go into the back yard and light a wood fire wouldn't she. So you are going to see a sign later on, if it can't be grown, it has to be mined. And so you pick up something if it can't be grown, it has to be mined.

ROSEN: We have a situation where metals mining and particularly gold mining is the most highly polluting industry in the nation and 80 percent of the nation's gold mining happens in Nevada.

PLASKON: Elyssa Rosen is Executive Director of the environmental group Great Basin Mine Watch

ROSEN: Its no wonder that the industry wants to repair a tarnished image by bringing pro-industry materials into the classroom.

PLASKON: Rosen says the field trip is biased and doesn't mention environmental consequences of mining. For instance there are an anticipated 450 million dollars worth of clean up costs from uninsured and bonded mines currently operating in the state. There is the clean up of a mine in Yerington recently taken over by the EPA for high levels of radioactivity seeping into one towns' wells. On top of that, EPA tests have shown that high levels of mercury from Nevada gold mines have polluted neighboring states. Elizondo Elementary Second Grade Teacher Sima Stein sees what's missing from the field trip.

STEIN: Well I am going to go back and we are going to do the environment, you know, how to protect the environment. You know how important it is to take care of our natural resources and that part we will do when we get back.

PLASKON: The school district leaves it up to teachers like Stein to find more balanced educational materials. The field trips' web site does have a link described as offering debates between environmentalists and mining companies. But it doesn't work. Second grade teacher Sima Stein said its difficult to compete with the mining industry's message in the well-financed field trip.

DOBRY: Doesn't bother me in the slightest, ha ha ha.

PLASKON: Principal at Robert Taylor Elementary Dr. Janet Dobry helped set up the non-profit that runs the mining field trip. She says the school district doesn't have any control over what is taught there, even though it sits on school district property.

DOBRY: I think that it is factual information that is being presented there we talk about environmental concerns and the whole works so I think kids get a pretty straight forward look at the mining industry.

PLASKON: She says nearly anything could be turned into a lesson for children - a corporately funded field trip to a make believe casino could be turned into a great math lesson.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

McCaw School of Mines

McCaw School of Mines

See discussion rules.

Archives

Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

© 2013 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.