Environment and the Earth Class
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
- establish baseline data on light use, recycling, and water fixtures in five academic buildings.
- compare the buildings to determine differences in environmental performance.
- compare the data gathered before and after educational campaigns.
Context for Use
- Students were divided into groups and sent into each building to record their observations and findings. Teaching assistants explained the exercise to the students. Each laboratory section was also given a disposable camera to document unique obervations.
Students collected the following information:
- lights: number of unoccupied rooms with lights on and the room type(classroom, office, bathroom, maintenance area, research lab, teaching and/or computer lab)
- water fixtures: total number of sinks, toilets, and drinking fountains. They noted the number in disrepair. The amount of water dripping from broken faucets was measured with a graduated cyclinder and stopwatch.
- recycling bins: type and location of each bin, proper labeling, if other materials (trash) were in the bin
- trash can content: estimate of percent reyclable material by volume, including a percent of each typ of material (paper, plastic, aluminum and glass). The can size and location were also noted.
- After the first assessment, signs were hung in each building encouraging occupants to turn off lights, recycle and report maintenance problems.
- A second building evaluation was completed in late April.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Student laboratory reports suggested that they learned about recycling and energy use on campus. However, only a portion of the data could be used for statistical analysis because many of the data sheets were filled out incompletely or incorrectly.
More complete instructions on how to collect the data may help this problem. In addition, students must be told that their grade is partially dependent on accurate data collection.