SISL > 2012 Sustainability in Math Workshop > Activities > Biking vs Driving

Biking vs Driving

This page is authored by Deirdre Smeltzer (together with Owen Byer), Eastern Mennonite University, based on an exercise in A Guide to Mathematics Competency (4th edition) written by Byer and Smeltzer.
Author Profile

Summary

This exercise asks a series of questions about the benefits of biking to work one day per week instead of driving, stressing estimation and unit conversions.

Learning Goals

  • Teaches estimation and unit conversion.
  • Develops "systems thinking" – recognition of the inter-connectedness of types of energies and encourages students to consider biking instead of driving.

Context for Use

This exercise uses pre-algebra skills. The assignment can be given with a varying degree of open-endedness.

Description and Teaching Materials

This exercise asks a series of questions about the benefits of biking to work one day per week instead of driving, stressing unit conversions. Biking vs Driving Exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Mar17 13)




Teaching Notes and Tips

This exercise is contained within a unit on estimation. The exercise could be completed relatively quickly (15 minutes) if directive questions are asked and the information needed for unit conversions is provided to the students; it could take quite a bit longer (perhaps up to an hour) if the question is asked in a very open-ended way, if students are not skilled at answering estimation questions, and if they need to look up the information needed for unit conversions. To make the exercise more practical for the students, they could be asked to use data that is more specific to their own situation (in terms of distance of commute, miles per gallon, cost of gasoline, etc.). This also would give a chance to create a formula for carrying out the calculations using variables.

Assessment

References and Resources

Unit conversion estimates used for the solutions were taken from the book Guide to Energy Management by Capehart, Turner, and Kennedy (page 9), along with the following websites.
http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=24&t=6
http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource001044_Rep1200.pdf