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Sustainability in Math Activities


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Population Growth, Ecological Footprints, and Overshoot part of Activities
Rikki Wagstrom
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
Daniel Abel
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.

Economics of installing Solar PV panels: is it worth it to the individual? part of Activities
Martin Walter
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 (UNLV)
In this problem, students compare the energy use of their existing refrigerator with a new refrigerator.

Energy Cost of Engine Idling part of Activities
Ben Fusaro
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
Jessica Libertini
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.

How much energy do you save by doubling insulation? part of Activities
Joseph Skufca
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
Bill Bauldry
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.

Bakken Oil From Shale, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Global Oil Economics part of Activities
Robert McConnell
Students work with oil production data to assess the environmental impact, and economic controls, of oil production and consumption.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent part of Activities
Bill Bauldry
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
Calculation of a carbon footprint resulting from common breakfast choices illustrates the importance of contextualization.

Modeling: (1) Revenue Neutral Carbon Taxes; (2) Accelerated atmospheric C02 concentrations part of Activities
Martin Walter
Design a revenue neutral carbon tax and a plan for implementation; together with a model for what happens if we do not institute such a tax-system.

The Costs of Your Commute: Your Money, Your Time, and the Earth part of Activities
Charlie Buehrle
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.

Should I Unplug? part of Activities
Lori Carmack
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The True Cost of Eggs: Commercial vs. Local part of Activities
Caira Bongers

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.


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