The San Miguel Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECI) has organized a unique, award-winning educational program that has the potential to change the lives of teachers and students in Texas. Twelve science educators attended the week-long Texas Mining & Reclamation Association (TMRA) Teachers’ Workshop, held June 19-24 at SMECI Power Plant and Lignite Mine, to learn the true history of mining in Texas. Located in Christine, Texas, SMECI produces 391 net megawatts of affordable, reliable electricity for nine member co-ops in 47 South Texas counties.
“Meeting the everyday, everyday people who keep our mines running safely and smoothly has given me a new perspective,” said Kristina Swanson, science professor at ISD Floresville. “I look forward to showing my students all the science careers filled with people like them and their families. Plus, the classroom activities will be great additions to my teaching toolbox. »
Every summer, elementary, middle and high school science teachers attend education camps to experience firsthand Texas’ proud history of mining lignite, uranium and industrial minerals to power the nation’s energy grid. Texas and provide the state’s essential infrastructure materials.
“Being able to look at San Miguel lignite mining as a whole and learn everything the mine does from start to finish was eye-opening and informative,” said Floresville ISD science professor Stephanie Kirtland.
During TMRA’s week-long sessions, teachers tour mines and power plants, tour salvage areas, and participate in hands-on labs. After the workshops, which are free for teachers, educators return to their classrooms with earth science facts and real-world problem-solving activities that encourage students to use their critical thinking skills.
During the San Miguel mine tour, SMECI reclamation supervisor Margarito Birones showed teachers the heavy equipment involved in the mining process, including the mammoth Marion 8200 Dragline. They also had the opportunity to take coal samples from an active mine pit. After the mine tour, SMECI Engineering Manager Eric Halfmann gave a bus tour of the power plant, explaining the various processes involved in generating power from lignite coal.
Teachers were also shown post-mining reclamation areas to learn about the reclamation processes used by SMECI to restore land and return it to landowners for the beneficial use of generations to come.
“We are thrilled to share with our educators the true story of mining in Texas, which includes SMECI’s dedication to providing the safe, reliable, and affordable power that thousands of residents and businesses across southern Texas matter,” said Nathan Brown, Managing Director/CEO of SMECI. .
Through TMRA’s teacher workshops, more than 1.5 million students have so far heard the real story of mining and recovery in Texas. The program is recognized by the Governor’s Conference on Mathematics, Science, and Technology and is certified by the Texas Environmental Education Advisory Council. It is designated as a Professional Development Provider by the State Board of Education Certification.