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October 29, 2018

Museum Mining Gallery Welcomes Thousands of Students

Barrick’s decades-long relationship with the Royal Ontario Museum is providing impetus to a larger educational movement on inquiry-based learning.

Students examine the $1 million gold coin on loan to the ROM from Barrick.

Students examine the $1 million gold coin on loan to the ROM from Barrick.
Photo courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

The Barrick Gold Corporation Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is educating thousands of students every year about mining, and also helping prepare them for a 21st century world.

Opened on January 14, 2014, the Gallery is devoted to telling the story of modern mining in our lives. Since opening, it has consistently ranked among the Museum’s most-visited galleries. The Gallery is brought to life through videos, a multiplayer tabletop game on running a mining operation, an interactive touchscreen that shows how pervasive minerals are in our day-to-day lives, and perhaps most popular, Barrick’s $1 million gold coin.

The Gallery is the latest iteration of a partnership between the ROM and Barrick that dates back nearly three decades. Barrick’s first gift to the Museum was made in 1990, and the relationship has grown ever since, with Barrick supporting the Museum’s earth sciences programs over the years, and donating several rare specimens to the Museum’s collections.

An extension of classroom learning

Barrick was recognized with the ROM’s Donor of Merit Award for its $3 million gift to the Museum. That donation supported the development of the Gallery, and funded the Barrick Learning Lab—a classroom that is fully-equipped with the latest instructional tools and digital technology. This includes a dedicated staff position, currently held by Sarah Chu, digital learning specialist, who develops and delivers earth sciences-related programming offered through the ROM’s learning department.

Digital learning specialist Sarah Chu interacts with students in the ROM Makerspace.
Photo courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

As one of the largest extracurricular educators in Canada, the ROM works with school boards across Ontario to make the Museum an extension of classroom learning. It welcomed almost 100,000 students onsite during the 2017-2018 school year, and helped educate them about mining and earth sciences through visits to the Gallery, the Barrick Lab, and the new ROM Makerspace (all funded by the Barrick gift).

To date, 11,870 students have participated in the earth sciences educational programming.

Students try out the ‘Challenge of Mining’ multitouch tabletop game.
Students explore the multitouch digital wall, which shows how pervasive minerals are in our day-to-day lives.

Students try out the ‘Challenge of Mining’ multitouch tabletop game, and explore the multitouch digital wall, which shows how pervasive minerals are in our day-to-day lives.
Photos courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

Wendy Ng, manager of learning at the ROM, says student visits to the Gallery are an essential part of the Museum’s educational programs. “These memorable experiences—the gold coin, digital tabletop game, and interactive touchscreens—are led and expertly guided by ROM teaching staff.”

Programs offered in the Barrick Lab and ROM Makerspace help foster digital literacy by giving students access to tools that scientists might use when conducting research and recording scientific observations. For example, using scientific instruments and rock specimens on display in the Lab, students discover what’s buried beneath their feet in the Earth’s crust.

The ROM Makerspace—another Barrick-funded initiative—creates opportunities for students to respond to the Museum’s collections and research using digital technologies and arts-based processes.

“The ROM Makerspace was launched in September 2016 as a way for students to have a space where they can create, whether it’s using digital or traditional art-making methods, in connection to the objects they see in the Gallery during their tours,” says Chu.

Since it launched, nearly 4,000 students have taken part in learning programs held in the ROM Makerspace.

Students attend a workshop in the Barrick Learning Lab.
Photo courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

A larger movement in education

Talking about the longer-term impact of these programs, Ng says, “We want the ROM to be part of a larger movement in education, which is student-centered and focused on inquiry-based learning. It’s also about helping students develop 21st-century skills in a rapidly changing knowledge economy.”

“This is a really exciting chapter in our ongoing partnership with the ROM,” says Peter Sinclair, Barrick’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “The team has done such a wonderful job finding innovative ways to connect the physical with the digital, creating this highly-unique modern mining learning experience for students across Ontario. We are thrilled with the partnership, and we look forward to the next chapter.”

To learn more, visit www.rom.on.ca/learn.

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