Terra Lab Launches

Britannia Mine Museum Launches Terralab STEAM Learning Space and Introduces Fun Spring Break Program for Families and COVID-19 Bubbles

Britannia Beach, B.C. (March 3, 2021) – Just in time for Spring Break, the Britannia Mine Museum is launching their Terralab Learning Space and will be introducing special educational programming for families and COVID-19 bubble groups during Spring Break, as part of their year of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art & Math) focus.

From March 13 to April 1 at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. every day, the Museum will host short interpreter-led STEAM “Mini Mud Monsters” sessions in the Terralab space, where families or COVID-19 bubble groups can learn about microorganisms in our freshwater ecosystems.

From streams to creeks, to rivers and wetlands, participants will see how these organisms, known as benthic macroinvertebrates or benthos, look like up close and learn just how they help us understand human impacts, including heavy metals and mining. Known as bioindicators to scientists and those who monitor the freshwater environments, benthos range in their tolerance to pollution and can help to better understand the health of an aquatic environment.

As part of its Spring Break activities, the Museum has also set up a self-guided “Designed to Fly” activity in the Machine Shop, exploring how aerial tramways were stars of the show in the earlier years of the Britannia Mine. Aerial tramways are like ski lifts or zip-lines for rocks. Bubble groups can visit the Machine shop to design and test a rock carrier using a mini zip-line, exercising their creative brains to predict, test and evaluate ideas.

“We are excited to launch our new Terralab STEAM Learning Space and although it won’t be fully running during COVID, we plan to host special mini educational programming sessions like the ones during Spring Break for kids and cohort families to enjoy,” says Diane Mitchell, Curator of Education & Collections at the Britannia Mine Museum. “We hope to inspire kids to learn more about STEAM related fields, and discover innovations and new knowledge related to responsible resource management.”

All Spring Break activities at the Museum are designed to be COVID-safe, organized in small bubble groups, with enhanced sanitation procedures in place, and are included with regular Museum admissions.

The Museum’s Terralab is an exhibit and programming space that allows for public and student engagement on the innovative exploration of sustainable mining, using the concept of plants as natural miners, and our move towards sustainable resource extraction. The Museum also looks forward to welcoming back elementary students from grade four to high school groups from the Lower Mainland and beyond, when field trips again become feasible. On their return, students will participate in educational programs emphasising the technologies and techniques of contemporary low-impact mining practices.

There is also a “Natural Miners” permanent exhibit in the Terralab, that explores the concept that both humans and plants are ʻnatural minersʼ, pulling metals from the earth. Utilizing the familiarity and appeal of plants, the exhibit focuses on our ever-increasing knowledge of how metals and natural systems interact, leading to new ways of conducting mineral exploration and mine site remediation with lower environmental footprints. Examples spotlight different aspect of Canadian research, including fascinating innovations in mineral exploration such as detecting the chemical element bromine in snow cover as a way to indicate a potential mineral deposit below ground.

The Terralab and its inaugural school program was developed in conjunction with researchers, Professor Neil Banerjee and Dr. Lisa Van Loon of Western University. Their research explores the synchrotron analysis of Britannia rockweed, in which its metal uptake is mapped as an example of a potential indicator species.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges the following financial supporters and educational partners in the development of the Terralab: Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, Finning International, Teck Resources Inc., CIM Underground Mining Society, Canadian Mineral Processors (National), Jerome Renwick III Endowment Fund (Canadian Geological Foundation), EPCOR Utilities Inc., Prof. Neil Banerjee and Dr Lisa Van Loon /Western University.

Media contact: Yvonne Chiang, 604-880-5090, ychiang@bcmm.ca