Lincoln-Way Teacher Presents at IAAP Conference
Thursday, July 21, 2016

On July 12, 2016, teacher Maria Wilson attended her third Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers (IAAP) conference at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. Wilson first attended the conference in 2008, when she was sponsored by Hanson Material Services. She was asked to speak at the IAAP conference in 2014, and again was invited to present last week.

Wilsons involvement in the conference in 2014 inspired her to apply for the Russ Brielman Teaching Enhancement Grant, which was awarded to Lincoln-Way in 2015. The grant is aimed at enhancing student learning in earth science, the aggregate mining industry, mined land reclamation, resource sustainability, and resource stewardship. With the $500 stipend, Wilson was able to purchase 11 sets of lab equipment for Lincoln-Way Earth Science and AP Environmental Science students.

In her presentation last week, Wilson shared how she implements activities learned from the conference in her own classroom. She reviewed five self-created lesson plans, each utilizing the lab equipment made possible by the grant. Attendees received lesson-plan materials that Wilson created and saw photos of her students in-action, realizing the obvious benefit of classroom labs.

Wilsons trip was not only a learning experience for those to whom she presented, but was also an opportunity for her to explore. Teachers who attended the conference received a geology tour of Starved Rock while hiking throughout the park, and visited local quarries. While at Lafarge Quarry, attendees were fitted with safety gear and hard hats before observing a quarry blast.

In addition to free educational materials, attending the conferences has allowed Wilson to see the resources of Illinois in and around Champaign-Urbana, Rockford, and Utica. Each experience gives her new perspective. Every time I attend this conference, I reflect upon its motto: if it can't be grown, it has to be mined. It makes me look differently at the materials I use every day.