InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Mapping the Environment with Sensory Perception
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Mapping the Environment with Sensory Perception

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Jul 15, 2016

Summary

This module connects students' personal sensory experiences to environmental data collected and analyzed by geoscientists, cultural impacts documented by social scientists, and the communication of environmental conditions and advocacy for remedial action crafted by rhetoricians. Sensory data (specifically smells and sounds) will be collected and used to trace the movement of contaminants through the environmental system. While geoscientists may ultimately rely upon chemical analyses of water, soil, and air samples, the initial impact of contamination is most often noted when people detect sensorial alterations of their lived spaces. Mapping sensory impacts will help students develop an understanding of how contaminants move through the natural environment; how data is collected to identify contaminants, monitor movement, and identify sources; and how individuals living in proximity to environmental hazards are directly impacted by those hazards. Students will also examine the ways in which information about environmental hazards is conveyed to different audiences and will apply their understanding by developing maps that convey the data they have collected to a specific audience.

Strengths of the Module

Students who learn with this module will:
  • Explore the implications of different data types used in environmental problem communication.
  • Evaluate the environmental impact of a human-modified site on a community using sensory data that they have collected with a data collection plan they have developed.
  • Compare and contrast different conceptual approaches (sensory and geoscientific) to mapping environmental issues.
  • Create a map to communicate the environmental impact (social and geophysical) of a human-modified site to an interdisciplinary audience.
In working with data, students will:
  • Analyze quantitative, qualitative, and survey data and compare the impact of each separately and combined.
  • Develop a sensory data collection protocol to reduce errors in the data collection process.
  • Collect and record qualitative and quantitative sensory data as part of an environmental study.
  • Map their sensory data in a way that is both accurate and communicates effectively.

Supported Next Generation Science Standards:
Performance expectation: MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment
Science and engineering practices:
Analyzing and interpreting data; Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Cross-cutting concepts: Systems and system models; Patterns
Disciplinary core ideas: ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
Connections to nature of science: Scientific investigations use a variety of methods

Supported Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Big Idea 1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  • Big Idea 3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.

Addressed grand challenges in earth system science for global sustainability:

  • Develop, enhance and integrate the observation systems needed to manage global and regional environmental change.

  • Determine how to anticipate, recognize, avoid and manage disruptive global environmental change.

  • Determine what institutional, economic and behavioural changes can enable effective steps toward global sustainability.

  • Encourage innovation (coupled with sound mechanisms for evaluation) in developing technological, policy, and social responses to achieve global sustainability


A great fit for courses in:

  • Introductory geoscience
  • Environmental science
  • Environmental geology
  • Environmental studies
  • Environmental justice or social issues
  • Contaminant analysis

This module was designed to work in any course that deals with environmental contamination including environmental science, social problems, environmental geology, and rhetorical analysis. It is designed for introductory level undergraduate students who have limited experience with the collection, analysis, and communication of scientific data. With slight modification, the module could be used in upper-level high school courses or upper-level college courses. The interdisciplinary nature of the module assumes that students will be knowledge-deficient in some areas and less so in others and provides assignment sheets, assessment rubrics, and other prompts to accommodate those deficiencies.

The module can be used at the beginning of the term to introduce students to some of the basic concepts and concerns associated with environmental contamination. Alternatively, it can be used later in the term to serve as a capstone after students have studied environmental contamination and its impacts.


Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »