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Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been submitted via a number of projects including On the Cutting Edge and may be useful in teaching Environmental Geology.


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Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Percentage of Copper in Ore
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Question Suppose that you are building a new house. It will take about 90 kg (198 pounds) of copper to do the electrical wiring. In order to get the copper in the first place, someone needs to mine solid rock that ...

Frequency of Large Earthquakes -- Introducing Some Elementary Statistical Descriptors
Len Vacher, Dept of Geology, University of South Florida
Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum module. Students examine the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 7 and above) per year for 1970-1999 and 1940-1999. QL: descriptors of a frequency distribution.

Modeling Atmospheric CO2 Data
John B. VanLeer, Cascadia Community College
In this activity, students will use actual CO2 data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii to create their own "Keeling Curve"; conduct an analysis of the data; and, attempt to match it to a mathematical function. They will then use the function to predict increases in CO2, both historical and future.

Sustainability and Changing Rates of Change
Christopher Coughenour, The Evergreen State College
To understand sustainability, students must understand rates of change. This activity includes a primer on basic rates concepts and an exercise that motivates critical thinking about rates of change and sustainability with an analysis of historical petroleum production rates data from the United States and the world.

Bakken Oil From Shale, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Global Oil Economics
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
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?
Ben Galluzzo, Shippensburg University
Calculation of a carbon footprint resulting from common breakfast choices illustrates the importance of contextualization.

The Costs of Your Commute: Your Money, Your Time, and the Earth
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.

Developing a Transportation Survey to Estimate Gasoline Use by Campus Commuters
Steven Bogart, Shoreline Community College
Through this activity, students in a liberal arts mathematics class will develop experience with real-world statistical concepts through the context of sustainability: estimation, survey writing, sampling techniques, and data analysis.

Estimating Greenhouse Gas Offsets as Part of Shoreline Community College's Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Charles Dodd, Shoreline Community College
This is a service-learning project for students in Geography 204 (Weather, Climate and Ecosystems). Students will assess prior estimates of carbon offsets associated with plant and soil biomass on their college campus; and as a result, they will understand the complexity of measuring the complex sources of carbon emissions and offsets; address the challenges of coordinating data collection and field measurement; and realize importance of estimation in public policy contexts.

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