Chocolate chip cookies and cabbage teach kids about the environment at the West Virginia State Fair

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August 28, 2006 by NRCCE News

Kids visit NRCCE booth at State Fair

Kids visit NRCCE booth at State Fair

Morgantown, W.Va. — The National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University completed another successful event at the WVU tent at the state fair this year with two environmental activities for kids.

The chocolate chip cookie mining game simulated coal mining with kids digging chocolate chips out of cookies with toothpicks and paperclips. Kids gained an understanding of time and money when “mining” their cookies by paying for property, tools, labor, and environmental reclamation while trying to make a profit.

“This game has become a favorite for many kids returning to the fair each year,” said Tracy Novak, NRCCE Marketing and Conference Director. “They come looking for us. But what’s not to love about making a mess and learning something too.”

“One mother returned to our booth telling us how her teenage daughter walked away from the game and continued asking her questions about how the game related to coal mining in West Virginia,” said Novak. “The mother commended us for the educational component of the game.”

The NRCCE also brought a new hands-on experiment this year. Kids used red cabbage juice as a pH indicator to test for clean water. They and their parents saw the difference between acid mine drainage (AMD) and remediated AMD taken from water samples provided by the NRCCE’s West Virginia Water Research Institute.

Kids also learned about acids and bases as cabbage juice changed common household liquids and drinks into different colors based on their acidity or alkaline levels. Professor Keith Garbutt, dean of West Virginia University’s Honors Program, assisted the NRCCE with this popular activity.

Kids play games to learn about coal mining and the environment.

Kids play games to learn about coal mining and the environment.

More than 200 kids participated in the NRCCE’s two-day activity at the fair. Each participant won a pair of WVU NRCCE paper sunglasses. Those experimenting with the red cabbage juice also won a mini-pH scale and a recipe to make their own red cabbage juice indicator at home.

“The NRCCE enjoys participating in the state fair each year. It’s fun to teach West Virginia kids, and their parents, a little bit more about WVU and its energy research and teaching tradition,” said Novak.