Students Tour Hunter Cement Plant
Students Tour Hunter Cement Plant
By Carol Hargadine
7-8 Grade Science Teacher, Schulenburg Junior High
This past summer I was lucky to be chosen to attend the TMRA Industrial Minerals teacher workshop based out of Round Rock. During the workshop, we took a trip to Martin Marietta’s Hunter Cement Plant, where we did everything that the students would soon do. This trip planted the seed in me to take my students to the plant so they could experience what I did. I was eager to share the knowledge of how cement is made. I wanted the students to understand that chemical formulas are in the real world and not just a lesson in class. Without the opportunity to go to a TMRA teacher workshop I would not have known this field trip was possible.
On October 9, the Schulenburg eighth-grade students went on a field trip to Martin Marietta Hunter Cement plant in New Braunfels. Thirty-seven eighth graders and five chaperones set out on a trip of a life time. With an hour-and-a-half drive set before us, most of the students took a nap to fuel up for the adventure ahead.
When we arrived, we were joined on the bus by Bud McCormick, Kristen, and Cyrus. They lead us on an informative guided tour of the quarry. In the quarry, they told us the rocks had recently been blown up with explosives. They explained to us that the blasted rocks were now being harvested to create cement. The students got to see the rocks being loaded onto the trucks and carried off to start the process. After seeing that, we drove back to the main building for a quick but educational meeting about how the plant runs and the processes used to create the cement.
During the presentation, we learned about the chemical formula of concrete. Bud was entertaining and educational and asked our students questions on what they thought was needed during each step of the process.
We were taught that the compound needed was CO3. In the first stage, the materials are crushed then sent through a series of containers where it is then pulverized. Heat is then added to help sort the materials. Once we learned how the plant operates, we were led onto the plant floor to experience how it all works firsthand. We went into the control room where our students were amazed at all the high-tech computers and screens that it takes to operate the plant. During our tour, we visited the chemical lab and were shown how they test the materials. We walked about the plant, up and down stairs and under giant tumblers. The students were apprehensive about walking under the mighty machines. We stepped into the industrial-sized elevator and were taken four hundred feet into the air to the very top of the tower. When we stepped out, the students were in awe of the breath-taking view of the area around us. The students got to see their classmates on the ground floor looking like tiny ants.
After coming down from the tower we walked back to the conference room where we were treated to not only delicious but beautifully decorated boxed lunches. It made the students feel very special. After eating we said our good-byes and loaded back on the bus to travel back to school. We truly all had a great time at the plant learning how it runs. We cannot wait until our next visit. Many thanks go out to Bud and his crew for a fantastic day.
PICTURES FROM THE TOUR:
Schulenburg Eight Graders atop the tower at Martin Marietta’s Hunter Cement Plant.
Walking under the HUGE tumbler.
Even the chaperones loved the tour!