Pedagogy in Action > Library > Campus-Based Learning > Examples of Campus-Based Learning > Campus Nitrogen Budget

Campus Nitrogen Budget

Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, ssavanic@carleton.edu

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Aug 30, 2006

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

Explicitly link your college or university operations with local ecology. In this study, students use a tool from urban ecology, the nitrogen budget, to research the inputs, outputs and subsystem transfers of nitrogen on the college or university campus. Through this research, the nutrient budget frames campus environmental assessments with ecological metrics.

Learning Goals

Students will understand the significance and human dimensions of the nitrogen cycle in an urban area. Students will understand the effect of campus operations and sustainability efforts on the nitrogen budget.

Context for Use

This is a major undertanking by students to assess the campus nitrogen budget. It could be a class project by groups of students over a semester or by a student as part of an independent study. The data could be used to evaluate the effect of campus sustainability efforts, energy efficiency options, and other campus policies.
Campus Nitrogen Budget. Adapted from (Savanick 2004). Inputs and outputs to the campus N budget are shown via arrows; dashed lines represent a transfer between subsystems.

Description and Teaching Materials

Savanick, S (2005) Guidelines for College-Level Nitrogen Budgeting (Microsoft Word 138kB Aug12 05).

Savanick, S. (2004) Campus Ecology: Bridging the Gap Between Sustainability Efforts and Urban Ecology. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Minnesota. Chapter three is an example of a nitrogen budget for the University of Minnesota.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The difficulty of compiling the data depends on the type and accessibiltiy of records. Collecting data on an academic or fiscal year may be more reasonable, depending on how the college keeps data.

Assessment

Learn more here about assessment theory and techniques

Assessment Rubrics:

References and Resources

Baker, L., Diane Hope, Ying Xu, Jennifer Edmonds, and Lisa Lauver (2001) Nitrogen Balance for the Central Arizona-Phoenix (CAP) Ecosystem Ecosystems 4, 582-602.

Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research is the site for one of the National Science Foundation funded Long-Term Ecological Research site in an urban area.

Savanick, S. (2004) Campus Ecology: Bridging the Gap Between Sustainability Efforts and Urban Ecology. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Minnesota.

The Environmental Literacy Council has more information on the Nitrogen Cycle.

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