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Sustainability in Math Activities


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Population Growth, Ecological Footprints, and Overshoot part of Activities
Rikki Wagstrom, Metropolitan State University
In this activity, students develop and apply linear, exponential, and rational functions to explore past and projected U.S. population growth, carbon footprint trend, ecological overshoot, and effectiveness of hypothetical carbon dioxide reduction initiatives.

Choosing Between Home Appliances: Benefits to the Planet and Your Wallet part of Activities
Corri Taylor, Wellesley College
Students research various options for new appliances and make purchasing decisions based not merely on purchase price, but also on energy efficiency, which has implications for the planet AND for longer-term personal finances. Students calculate the "payback period" for the more energy efficient appliance and calculate long-term savings.

What's for Dinner? Analyzing Historical Data about the American Diet part of Activities
Jessica Libertini, Johns Hopkins University
In this activity, students research the historical food consumption data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to observe trends, develop regressions, predict future behavior, and discuss broader impacts.

The Costs of Your Commute: Your Money, Your Time, and the Earth part of Activities
Charlie Buehrle, Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg
This activity has students investigate their own cost, CO2 output, and time for commuting. They then compare their commute to an environmentally conscious alternative by using comparable metrics.

Salt Marshes: estimation techniques using basic algebra and geometry part of Activities
Yelena Meadows, Upper Iowa University; Sharareh Nikbakht, Appalachian State University
The activity allows for learning about salt marshes ecosystem and practicing of basic math in estimations.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent part of Activities
Bill Bauldry, Appalachian State University
Student teams investigate Arctic Sea Ice by analyzing actual data and making predictions. A worthwhile extension is to predict the first year that the Arctic Ocean will be ice free.

How Big is Your Breakfast Footprint? part of Activities
Ben Galluzzo, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Calculation of a carbon footprint resulting from common breakfast choices illustrates the importance of contextualization.

Should I Unplug? part of Activities
Lori Carmack, Salisbury University
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One day it is too hot and other days it is too cold. Do we need to replace the HVAC system? part of Activities
Monika Kiss
This project will allow students to create a mathematical model to help in making decision about replacing HVAC units on a large scale.

Estimating OUR Carbon Footprint part of Activities
Ben Galluzzo, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania; Jean McGivney-Burelle, University of Hartford; Rikki Wagstrom, Metropolitan State University
Description here.

Hybrid Vehicles: Are They Worth It? part of Activities
Lori Carmack, Salisbury University
In this project, students analyze the costs of gasoline nationwide. They also investigate the cost-effectiveness of purchasing a new hybrid vehicle as opposed to purchasing a new vehicle that runs solely on gasoline.

Control Chart Project part of Activities
Owen Byer, Eastern Mennonite University
This is a short assignment that asks students to find some data related to sustainability and determine whether the mean of that data set is statistically stable, and whether the process being measured is in control or out of control. It is often used for quality control in a production process, but in this activity, it is used to see if an ecosystem process is stable and healthy or disrupted (out of control.)

Economics of installing Solar PV panels: is it worth it to the individual? part of Activities
Martin Walter, University of Colorado at Boulder
We show that it is economical for an individual to install solar photovoltaic panels in Denver, Colorado; and this is a sustainable strategy for society at large.

Replacing Household Appliances: Refrigerator part of Activities
Krys Stave, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
In this problem, students compare the energy use of their existing refrigerator with a new refrigerator.

Teaching Mathematics as Though Our Survival Mattered part of Activities
Martin Walker
Mathematics plays a pivotal role in helping us understand "the current human condition." This attached article provides multiple examples and is useful as a supplemental reading. A variety of math problems could also be extracted for course use.

Energy Cost of Engine Idling part of Activities
Ben Fusaro, Florida State University
This is an open-ended but elementary modeling exercise about idling energy behaviors and impacts.

Predicting Next Year's Population part of Activities
Bill Bauldry, Appalachian State University
Students use current population factors to predict the next five years' population for a chosen country.

A Monarchy Deposed: The Demise of the Monarch Butterfly part of Activities
Daniel Abel, Coastal Carolina University
Monarch butterflies (scientific name: Danaus plexippus) migrate annually to forests in central Mexico from Canada and California. Those surviving the 1200 - 2800 mile migration overwinter in Mexico. In this activity, students will learn about the conservation biology of monarch butterflies, threats to their survival, the implications of their potential extinction, and ways to protect the species.

Plastic Waste Production part of Activities
Karen Bliss
In this exercise, students will use data to predict the amount of plastic waste in the next ten years.

The True Cost of Energy part of Activities
Daniel Flath, Macalester College
How much would it add to the cost of burning a light bulb for a year if you pay for damage to the environment, climate effects, and health harms created by using coal to generate the electrical energy?

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