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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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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.

Superfund Case Study part of Cutting Edge:Courses: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 ...

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.

Financial Incentives of Open Access Resource Overuse part of Integrate:Workshops:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Activities
In this activiy when property rights are absent participants have financial incentive to take what they can get immediatly as opposed to waiting until the resource is more valuable. Adding strong property rights provides the proper finanacial incentives for students to wait to extract the resource when it is most valuable.

Seminar on Sustainability in Europe: What are the Limits of Possibility? part of Integrate:Workshops:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Activities
This field trip presents a model of an experiential exploration of sustainability systems and the limits of possible transfer of ideas from Europe to the US. In addition to experiential learning, our aim was to have in-depth, ongoing conversations in which to examine our assumptions and observations.

Game Assignment for Environmental Economics part of Integrate:Workshops:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Activities
Game Assigment for Environmental Economics and Sustainability

Petroleum Use Jigsaw Activity/Homework part of Cutting Edge:Energy:Energy Activities
Students get one of 3 homework assignments. They then gather in groups, one that has completed each homework to answer questions as a group. The exercises estimate current oil usage, reserves, and amounts available ...

The Energy Conundrum part of Cutting Edge:Energy:Energy Activities
This is a lecture aimed at preparing students for making the leap from what is to what ought to be. In it, I present the main sociological theories about poverty and examine several places I've lived—New ...