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Classroom Activities for Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences

This collection of teaching materials allows for the sharing of ideas and activities within the community of geoscience teachers. Do you have a favorite teaching activity you'd like to share? Please help us expand this collection by contributing your own teaching materials.

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Lessons on River Ecosystems part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
These lessons immerse students in thinking about the big idea of an environmental system as a network of interrelationships and evaluating the goodness of policy options for the environment in the future.

Machines that change climate: Porsche 911 Turbo vs. Toyota Prius part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
This problem illustrates how consumer decisions can influence carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, how to make back-of-the-envelope calculations, and demonstrates the power of exponential growth.

Resource Usage Project and Journal part of Cutting Edge:Energy:Energy Activities
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.

Superfund Case Study part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
This exercise is meant to reinforce concepts covered in the whole course. It helps students integrate concepts from risk and toxicology, air, water and soil pollution, regulation and remediation technology.

Petroleum Depletion by Inquiry part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
This is a draft of a guided inquiry activity to help students become aware of the problem of petroleum depletion or peak oil. Students use existing data to make projections of future discoveries and consumption. It ...

Interactive Model Problem Set part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
This is a problem set for the course Modeling and Assessment for Policy (graduate course at MIT). It is designed to enable students to use interactive models and reflect on their use in a policy context. It relates ...

California Climate: Pacific Ocean Connection part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
I use this lesson as a group assignment in my Earth Science classes. In the face-to-face and field studies classes, the groups present their findings/and recommendations to the class on the last meeting day.

Cost Effectiveness of Increased Fuel Efficiency part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with the News:Examples
In this example students examine and critique an argument which implies that it is not cost effective to pay for an automobile with increased fuel efficiency. Using a few reasonable assumptions shows that some of ...

Marine Noise Pollution Silent Socratic Dialogue part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Activities
In this Oceanography activity, students learn about the history of marine noise pollution and its effects on marine life, particularly cetaceans. The activity concludes with a paired debate using the Silent Socratic Dialogue method.

Where does your energy come from? Analyzing your energy bill part of ACM Pedagogic Resources:ACM/FaCE:Projects:Integrating Sustainability into the Undergraduate Curriculum:Activities
Students use utility bills to determine the cost and sources of energy in their households.