Joanne Rice wants everyone to know that May 11 to 17 is Mining … and Geology … Week.

“It’s because when people think of mining they think of dirty, mucky holes,” says the executive officer of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. “And when they think of geology, they think of science.

“We teach the cycle of the rock; it’s an introduction to geology.

“We teach mapping; that’s an understanding of terrain.”

So, during Mining and Geology Week, she will try to reach as many students as possible.

In Whitehorse, classes will cycle through the Elijah Smith Building’s foyer May 11 and 12 to try their hand at soapstone carving, goldpanning, mapping and making their own gold-flake business cards.

In Carmacks, on May 13, they will have the same experience except, instead of mapping, they will learn the cycle of the rock.

And, since the students in Dawson City already know how to pan for gold, they will have races instead on May 14.

“Dawson kids get right into it,” says Rice. “They are our biggest supporters, even though this is ‘hard rock’.”

Placer mining, of course, is big in Dawson City.

Even those who don’t get to attend these sessions will have a chance to get involved. Rice says every school has been sent a colouring contest for those eight years of age and under. Those over that age have a word-find contest.

Rice says adults, too, can take part in that contest. Last year, 200 adults took part which gave each a good shot at the many prizes.

This year’s grand prize is a gold nugget for the word-find contest and $50 for the colouring contest.

Rice says the goal of Mining and Geology Week is to create awareness of mining and its importance: “If it’s not mined, it has to be grown; if its not grown, it has to be mined,” she says, the words rolling off her tongue effortlessly.

“I wish people are more aware of how things are done today; kids swim in the tailings ponds; if you flew over Brewery Creek in seven years, you’ll never know there was a mine there.”

Prizes will be awarded May 19.