Cutting Edge > Topics > Energy > Teaching Activities > Resource Usage Project and Journal

Resource Usage Project and Journal

Gina Seegers Szablewski
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see

This page first made public: Oct 15, 2010


Students keep track of one resource (water, electricity, gas, etc.) they use for a 7-day period. They summarize their usage patterns, give opinions, and get some self-realization about their habits.

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Introductory geology course concerned with environmental issues

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic skill set of creating a journal, summarizing data in a table, and writing a 2-page paper. They need to know the different resources they use on a regular basis.

How the activity is situated in the course

I usually offer this as a stand-alone EC project for large classes.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Accurate collection of data

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Clear analysis of data collected, critical evaluation of how choices and habits affect the environment through energy usage

Other skills goals for this activity

Practice scientific and opinion writing, practice searching for practical data (eg, how much water is involved in a toilet flush, demonstrate scientific literacy

Description of the activity/assignment

This project is an opportunity for students to realize the impacts of their lifestyles on the environment. They choose one of the following options to keep track of:
A. Energy consumption (transportation, industrial, or residential hot water),
B. water consumption
C. food consumption
D.Waste production
Then the student records the appropriate personal information from that category for a seven day continuous period. Their submission of 2-3 pages must include their raw data, a summary of their raw data, and a conclusion of what they have learned from the project. Honesty and creativity in presentation are encouraged strongly, even if the data reflects a "non-green" lifestyle. Students are graded equally on length, grammar, relevancy, voice, and content.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I create a very simple rubric with 5 categories that need to be addressed in their submission.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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