Many are learning from the Berkeley Pit

Many students and teachers are learning about science by visiting the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana.

Many students and teachers are learning about science by visiting the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana.

From grade school through college, many classes have visited the Pit in order to learn about science, mining, and the history of the region.

In the past year, students from not only the Butte area, but also from around Montana made the trip to the Pit. Middle school students from Bonner school  and college students from Montana State University-Billings and the University of Montana Environmental Studies programs have visited the Pit and the Butte area annually for the past few years.

Teachers as well as students are learning from the Pit and taking that knowledge back to their classrooms. For example, in 2007 Montana Resources provided a tour of the Pit and surrounding area for a group of 15 western Montana teachers. Seeing the Pit up-close and in-depth provides teachers with real-world examples of science concepts and issues that can then be used to engage students in the classroom.

These inquisitive spectators have learned about the details of the Pit from a variety of community volunteers and experts. Butte resident Joe Griffin, an environmental science specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality, offers students a comprehensive view of the science surrounding the Pit.

Tad Dale regularly takes time away from his busy schedule at Montana Resources to share his wealth of knowledge about the Pit and mining. Scientists from the Montana Tech faculty often come out to discuss the Pit in light of their specialties, whether it is Andrea and Don Stierle talking about biology and their research on the unusual microbes living in the Pit environment or Colleen Elliott presenting the geological context of the Pit.

And, of course, thousands of tourists learn about the Pit every year through the Butte trolley system, guided by knowledgeable locals like Butte High School history teacher Chris Fisk. Thanks to the contributions of knowledgeable Butte citizens like these, the Berkeley Pit viewing stand serves as an exciting classroom for exploring environmental sciences.

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