Sustainability in Math Activities
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Shift in life expectancy part of Activities
Determining the shift in expected life span over a century and the social and environmental impact
Population Growth, Ecological Footprints, and Overshoot part of Activities
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.
A Monarchy Deposed: The Demise of the Monarch Butterfly part of Activities
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
In this exercise, students will use data to predict the amount of plastic waste in the next ten years.
Control Chart Project part of Activities
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
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
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
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
This is an open-ended but elementary modeling exercise about idling energy behaviors and impacts.
What's for Dinner? Analyzing Historical Data about the American Diet part of Activities
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.
Predicting Next Year's Population part of Activities
Students use current population factors to predict the next five years' population for a chosen country.
The True Cost of Energy part of Activities
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?
How much energy do you save by doubling insulation? part of Activities
Students will be provided the governing equation for steady state heat transfer across a surface. They will use that equation to explore the effect of changing the insulation value on the amount of energy used.
Simple Population Space Usage part of Activities
Students find current values for world and US populations, the area of Texas, and the size of the average house in the USA. Students then look at ratios to assess land usage.
Water conservation part of Activities
Small amounts of water in one home dripping from a faucet can add up to huge monetary and resource losses
Bakken Oil From Shale, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Global Oil Economics part of Activities
Students work with oil production data to assess the environmental impact, and economic controls, of oil production and consumption.
Problems for Calculus and Precalculus part of Activities
Deb Hughes Hallett
Problems on Energy and Climate for Students in Calculus I and II
Solar panel statistical tests part of Activities
In this activity, students will determine whether there is a statistically significant difference in the number of watts of power produced on individual solar panels at Bryn Mawr College.
Arctic Sea Ice Extent part of Activities
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.