Museum of Science and Industry

Cookie Mining

Learn the economics of coal mining. Students will buy a mine, purchase mining equipment, conduct mining operations, sell their mined ore and attempt to reclaim the mined land.

What You'll Need

Two or three types of chocolate chip cookies
Paper clips
Graph paper
Play money (optional)
Cookie mining worksheet (PDF)

What to Do

Each student begins with $20 they will use to buy a mining property (a cookie) and mining tools (toothpicks, dowels and paper clips). Have several types of cookies available with different amounts of chips priced like this:
Fewer chips: $3
More chips (like Chips Ahoy): $5
Lots of chips (like Chips Deluxe): $7

After buying one mining property, trace the cookie's outline on the graph paper. Count each square that falls inside the circle; count partial squares as a full square.

Next, select and buy mining tools. Students can buy as many tools as they'd like, but they cannot share tools. If a tool breaks during mining, a new tool must be purchased. Tools for sale include:
Toothpick: $2
Dowel: $4
Paper clip: $6

Now it's time for mining. Be sure the students know the rules:
1. The only things that can touch the cookie during mining and reclamation are the mining tools. You cannot use your fingers to hold or move the cookie.
2. If a mining tool breaks, it is no longer useable and a new one must be purchased.
3. After the cookie has been mined, return the cookie fragments (without the chips) back into the area of the circle. This can only be done with mining tools - no fingers or hands.
4. You have five minutes to mine and reclaim the cookie.  

The process of breaking the cooking, extracting the chips and returning the cookie fragments to the original outline should last for exactly five minutes. Once time is up, calculate profit and costs:
Mining costs are $1 per minute.
Mining profits are the chocolate chips extracted. Each chip mined from the cookie is $2 in profit. Broken chips can be combined to form a whole chip.
Reclamation costs, the costs associated with returning the land to its pre-mining state, are $2 for each square covered outside the original outline of the cookie. Remember, partial squares count as full squares.

Complete the student worksheet to determine if you made a profit in cookie mining.

Museum Hours
  • Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas
More Information

Museum Location
Museum of Science+Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
1 (773) 684-1414
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