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Is My House on an Abandoned Waste Site?

This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Mark Noll, SUNY College at Brockport
Course: Our Earth
85 students
Presenting students with a realistic problem-solving task draws them in.

The Activity

I present the students with a scenario about buying a house then getting a letter from the department of environmental conservation about the abandoned waste site on which their house is built. The students and I engage in some role-playing on who and what to believe. Then I ask them to decide what they need to know to make a decision for themselves.