mining artifacts at sterling hill mining museum Sterling Hill Mining Museum, NJ


Education: On-Site Teacher Workshops

Sterling Hill Mining Museum is a State-registered provider of professional development training for teachers.

Scheduled workshops (list below) are announced through our web site and through the NJSSI List-Serv system. If you would like notices of upcoming workshops sent to you via e-mail, contact Missy Holzer at

Our facilities at Sterling Hill can accommodate up to 40 participants, but almost always we will hold attendance to 25 people or fewer. Brief descriptions of our workshops are given below, together with the curriculum segments to which they apply. Each workshop can be "slanted" to emphasize one or more curriculum segments, if desired.

In addition to scheduled workshops open to all, private workshops can be reserved by any particular school or school system as long as a minimum of five attendees take part. Such workshops can be customized to the specific needs of your school and can be held either at Sterling Hill or another venue of your choosing (see Off-site Contract Training). Teachers interested in cross-curricular programs might find such workshops particularly advantageous. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Missy Holzer, to discuss particulars. Missy Holzer can be reached at

Note:  Though all of our workships are designed with educators in mind, they are open to the public as well.  Employees of the museum can attend any of these events free of charge.

underground mineScheduled Workshops

W1.  Introduction to Sterling Hill Mining Museum (6 hours, $40 per attendee)
This workshop is designed for teachers who wish to develop their students' class trip to Sterling Hill into classroom learning exercises. In addition to an underground zinc mine, the Sterling Hill Mining Museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits on many facets of mining and the uses of mined materials in society. Workshop attendees will spend much of the morning in the mine and will concentrate on three subjects: the geology of the mine, safety practices that were employed while the mine was active, and the use of physics in developing an efficient mining process. During the afternoon we will tour the grounds outdoors, where large pieces of mining and milling equipment are on view. The day concludes in the Zobel Exhibit Hall, where more than 20,000 objects related to mining are on display. The focus throughout is to learn what this historic industrial site has to offer as an instructional resource.

W2.  Introduction to Paleontology (6 hours, $40 per attendee)trex dinosaur
Attendees to this workshop will be introduced to Paleontology, the study of ancient life. This will include a review of what defines a fossil, along with key terms and concepts used by paleontologists. Next a look at the major biological groups of organisms, including dinosaurs, will be presented as they pertain to paleontology. The use of dinosaurs as an interest hook for students to science, English and math will be discussed, including strategies of how to help a student who may already know more than the teacher does about the subject matter. A review of classroom exercises and potential class field trips for the New Jersey metropolitan area will be presented to the attendees.  Pending time, a group discussion of how to teach evolution and geologic time will close the class.

W3.  Minerals – An Intensive Overview (6 hours, $40 per attendee)
This workshop is designed to show teachers how to "hook" students by featuring minerals as objects of fascination rather than simply components of rocks. Attendees will learn how to construct a compass from a natural mineral, see how nature created fiber-optic materials long before they were made in a laboratory, learn why diamonds are called "ice" among jewel thieves, and experience minerals that produce double vision without alcohol. By the time attendees complete this workshop they will have a thorough grounding in the properties of minerals and how those properties are related to one another. Numerous hands-on classroom activities will be discussed. This workshop is readily adaptable to applications in physics and chemistry classes.

W4.  Rock, Sediment, and Mineral Resources of New Jersey
(6 hours, $45 per attendee, plus optional $20 New Jersey Rock and Sediment Kit)
This workshop is designed to help educators learn about the geology and nonrenewable mineral resources of New Jersey and adjacent states. Attendees will first participate in the popular Rock Discovery Center at Sterling Hill, where they will collect samples of various rock types and learn about the many uses of bulk rock in our society. Next, attendees will use the New Jersey Rocks and Sediments (NJRS) Kit as an introduction to the geology of our state and its rock and sediment resources. The NJRS kit consists of 17 specimens with accompanying page-size geologic map and explanatory booklet. A supplemental teacher's guide, prepared by Sterling Hill, contains instructions for hands-on classroom activities keyed to the NJRS kit for grades 3-8. Participants will take home with them a set of notes plus a box of six rock specimens from the Rock Discovery Center. Purchase of the NJRS kit and teacher's guide ($20) is optional.fluorescent

W5.  Fluorescent Materials in our Everyday Lives (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
Postage stamps, office paper, laundry detergents, driver's licenses, safety clothing - what do these things have in common? They all incorporate fluorescent materials as part of their function. Fluorescent materials are all around us, some in obvious ways (the light tubes in your office), but many hidden. Join us as we explore the many ways that fluorescence is used in our daily lives. This workshop includes an extended tour of the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence, plus numerous ideas for classroom activities.

W6.  Iron Mining in New Jersey (6 hours, $40 per attendee)
The history of iron mining in New Jersey spans more than 250 years. Mines in Sussex, Morris, Passaic, and Warren Counties figured heavily in the outcome of the Revolutionary War, and iron from hundreds more helped propel our young nation into the Industrial Revolution. In this workshop we will explore how New Jersey's iron ore deposits were found and developed, how new towns sprung up around them, and how the early development of our state is largely the story of its mines.

W7.  The Enduring Fame of Franklin and Sterling Hill (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
The adjoining zinc mines at Franklin and Sterling Hill share nearly three centuries of history and exerted a strong influence on the economic and societal fabric of northern New Jersey. Much mining technology was invented here, much mining law was written here, and much wealth was created here. During the 19th and 20th centuries, as wave after wave of immigrants came to New Jersey to work in its zinc mines, the cultural diversity of nearby towns grew out of all proportion to their size. This workshop explores these topics and more to reveal the effects that mining has had in our communities, and shows how and why the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines achieved lasting world fame. The technical aspects of mining are explored in more detail in workshops W8 and W9.

W8. Development of the Franklin and Sterling Hill Zinc Mines (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
The earliest workings of New Jersey's zinc deposits predate 1739. Since then the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines have produced more than 33 million tons of high-grade zinc ore. The story of these two mines will be recounted in this workshop, from early exploration by Dutch settlers, through failed attempts to extract metals from the ores, to final success as new technologies were developed. Attendees will learn how the zinc deposits were explored, how the mines were developed, how the ores were crushed and concentrated, and how zinc, iron, and manganese were separated from them. Modern mining practice will be illustrated by going underground in the Sterling Hill mine, where much equipment is still in place. This workshop differs from no. W7 in focusing primarily on technology.miner's life

W9.  Mining Technology, Past and Present (6 hours, $40 per attendee)
From antiquity to the present, miners have had to devise means to light their way underground, provide fresh air to breathe, break large quantities of rock, transport mined rock through underground workings and ultimately bring it to the surface, stabilize mined openings to prevent collapse, separate ore from waste rock, and process the ore to extract its valuable components. How these needs were met has evolved dramatically over the centuries, as this historical perspective will reveal. Along the way you might develop a new appreciation for those chemistry and physics classes you took in high school - successful mining involves simple applications of both subjects on an industrial scale.

W10.  The Life of a Miner (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
Geologist Ron Mishkin tells of his experiences as a miner, from the hot depths of the appropriately named Magma mine in Arizona to the black chambers of New Jersey's Scrub Oak and Richard iron mines. Ron will discuss the dangers that miners face underground, the measures taken to protect miners from harm, and how those measures sometimes fail. Attendees to this workshop will be given a sound introduction to a miner's life, not only within the context of the mine itself, but also in relation to miners' families and the communities in which they live. Stories about miners' superstitions and legends will be provided as well.

W11.  Resource Use at the Personal Level - Your Role as a Member of Society (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
The extractive industries (mining, quarrying, oil and gas production) provide the raw materials needed to produce almost everything we use in our lives, but our material wealth comes at a heavy environmental toll.  Most of us go about our lives with little awareness of our role in this process. However, because these industries are market-driven, our lifestyle choices largely determine the environmental fate of mined areas. This workshop is meant to serve as a reality check to connect us, the consumers, to what happens elsewhere on our behalf. In choosing our lifestyles there are few right-and-wrong answers, but there are consequences, and it is our responsibility to be aware of and acknowledge them. This workshop will include a wealth of material for classroom discussions and homework assignments.

W12.  Groundwater Basics (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
Groundwater is one of our most precious but least understood resources. Hidden from view, its subterranean flow, chemistry, susceptibility to pollution, and relation to surface streams and lakes remain a mystery to most of us. Yet, for at least half of us in the United States, this is the water we drink, the water we depend on for our very lives. Attendees to this workshop will be given a thorough (but thoroughly nontechnical) introduction to the nature of groundwater and its fragility as a national resource.

W13.  Glaciers in New Jersey (3 hours, $25 per attendee)
This workshop opens with a review of basic concepts in glaciology - types of glaciers, glacial flow, glacial advance and retreat, and the effects of glaciers on the landscape. We then turn to New Jersey, into which glaciers have advanced at least four times in the recent geologic past. Glaciation has not only extensively modified the landscape in the northern part of the state, but its varied effects touch indirectly on many aspects of our lives.  The distribution of our water supplies, of soils amenable to farming, and of sand and gravel deposits for construction, are all closely linked to New Jersey's glacial history.

W14.  Maps, Maps, Maps (4 hours, $30 per attendee)Ellis Observatory in New Jersey
Maps are all around us, from road atlases in our cars, to weather maps on TV, to subway and bus maps in major cities. This workshop will explore the many different kinds of maps and show how to extract the maximum amount of information from each. Attention will focus on the 1:24,000 topographic quadrangle maps of the U.S. Geological Survey. Participants will also be taught basic map-making skills and will make their own map of a portion of the Sterling Hill grounds. The techniques learned have many applications to our everyday lives as well, such as designing a home sprinkler system or deciding where best to plant a new tree.

W15. Observational Astronomy (4 hours, $40 per attendee)
This workshop is designed for teachers who desire a solid understanding of the night sky. The program will include observing planets, galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae (gas/dust clouds) through the large (20-inch) telescope located on the Sterling Hill property. A special slide presentation on meteorites will be given to provide instruction in "space geology," and specimens of meteorites from the moon, Mars, and asteroid belt will be on hand for examination. The program will be conducted on selected Friday or Saturday evenings under the excellent dark skies of Sussex County, NJ. This program is excellent for science teachers who desire the ability to identify specific stars, constellations, and planets for their students. It is also great for those who are just curious and want to learn about the heavens for their own enjoyment.