Publications : Papers

Secondary School Science Teachers as the Key to a Sustainable Workforce in the Mining and Mineral Processing Industry — Changing People’s Attitudes
Published in: 2007
Author: D Churach and N J Welham
Volume Title: World Gold 2007

This paper reports on an innovative professional development program for school science teachers run collaboratively between the Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing and Murdoch University. Ultimately the initiative aims at increasing the pool of school students with strong science and mathematics backgrounds while highlighting the challenging careers available in the mineral resource sector including the gold industry. The program is unique in that it seeks to develop a network of science teachers who may participate in a series of workshops, short courses and tours over several years. The objective is to raise secondary school students’ awareness of potential careers within the minerals sector by exposing teachers to a real life, hands-on look into the mining and minerals resource industry. Though the program includes the breadth of the resource processing sector, the potential value to gold processing is in developing a greater pool of potential employees. The initiative allows teachers to develop a better insight into the practical applications of the theoretical sciences they are required to teach. The evolution of the program from the first trials with Western Australian teachers to the introduction of the initiative to Queensland teachers are reported on. Additionally, the results of a pilot study involving 40 participating teachers are described. This study used a questionnaire and follow-up interviews to gain quantitative and qualitative feedback from teachers. There is evidence that the professional development program has resulted in teachers acquiring a new found appreciation for the application of the fundamental chemistry and physics they teach within the school curriculum. Also reported are associations between teacher participation in this professional development program and changing attitudes towards the industry in a positive way. Finally, there is some indication that these positive teacher attitudes may result in their students developing a better understanding of the diversity and availability of career paths within this industry.

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