The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky and its partner, CEDAR Inc. from Pikeville, recently coordinated a tour with Perry County Coal Company for 4th grade teachers to see an underground coal mine and the mining process. The teachers were participating in the Mars Invasion, From Coal Camp to Space Camp program at the Challenger Center which looks at the way coal mining and space science are alike. They use these similarities to show that math, science, and technology is important in both industries. Tom Cravens, Director of the Challenger Learning Center said, “This is a great experience for our teachers to actually see the mining process rather than just read or hear about it. Many of their students’ families and their own family members are involved in mining and it helps for them to be able to take a greater knowledge of the industry back into the classroom so their students can relate.”
The teachers went about 3.5 miles back into Perry County Coal’s underground mine where they were able to observe and learn about the remote-control operated continuous miner at the coal face, the trailers that took the coal from the miner to the belt line, the belt line which took the coal out of the mine to the surface, the roof bolting machine that held up the ceiling of the post-mined tunnels, the air moving system which supplied fresh air to the mines, the system that allowed the location of miners to be known at all times, and the processes that have been developed to bring all those moving parts together.
Cravens added, “It was neat that some of the teachers who went underground for the very first time have husbands that have worked in the mines for 20 years. With this experience they will have a much better understanding of the work their husbands do and can relate so much better to their work environment.”