Jen's MEM Journey

Mission Impossible?!?
by Jennifer Weiss -- November 16th, 2011

When you’re 8 years old, mining is serious business.

“I got 18 chips!”

“I got 41.”

“I got 103.”

103 chocolate chips? These kids are some serious chocolate chip miners!

This week, in my continuing quest to teach energy education to 3rd graders, I tackled non-renewable resources. What does that have to do with chocolate chips, you ask? Good question! Read on ..

I started out my lesson by describing how non-renewable energy sources are formed. I used my favorite EIA graphic to tell the story of how coal/oil/gas was created millions of years ago (yes, even before dinosaurs). I emphasized that once non-renewable energy sources are gone, they are GONE. I even tried to explain Nuclear Fission (not recommended to this age group). The kids were as interactive as always, but I felt like the message just wasn’t strong enough. 

To emphasize the point that non-renewable resources are hard to get to, I needed something innovative, something unique, something …. tasty??

Queue the chocolate chip cookies!

The instructions were to get as many chocolate chips out of a Chips Ahoy cookie as possible – using only a toothpick as a tool. Almost as soon as I passed out the cookies, their little minds started working:

“Can I break the cookie apart to get more chips?”

“Can I mine the chips underneath the cookie?”

“Do the chips have to be whole or can they be broken?”

“Can I eat the chips?”

These kids were really serious about getting every last chip out of the cookie. Working at a feverish pace for almost 10 minutes, they succeeded at successfully mining almost all of their chocolate. Or, at least more than their neighbor!

The Chocolate Chip Mining exercise was a hit and proved once again that nothing is impossible when you’re an 8 year old. In the end, as they gazed at the pile of cookie crumbs left on their plate, they seemed satisfied with the results. They had succeeded at mining the chips. But, what had they learned about non-renewable energy sources?

My cookie doesn’t look like it did when it started. But, it still tastes good.” – A future land developer!

“I’m going to save this cookie for my grandma – she loves chocolate chip cookies.” – A future conservationalist!

And what happens when there are no more chips left in our cookies? We ask for more of course:

“Mrs. Weiss, are there any more cookies?”


Sorry kids, in my house Chips Ahoy cookies are a non-renewable resource. When they are gone, they are gone.

Mission accomplished!!


1 Comment

  1. Sue
    Nov 17, 2011

    What a great lesson!

    Such a creative way of getting your students to grasp these concepts.

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