How should I shower?

This page authored by Margaret Sullivan, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, MD as part of an MAA PREP workshop at Shippensburg University, July 2013.
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In this activity students investigate a variety of shower heads with the intention of making a recommendation to a homeowner as to the "best" to use; then, they are similarly to make a recommendation to their university for shower heads for the residence halls. Basic cost comparisons, break even point, and societal considerations need to go into the decisions that are made.

Specifically, students will investigate these questions:
Part One: What are the benefits/costs of 3 varieties of shower head types: standard, low flow, massage spray? Would it be worthwhile to replace what I have in my own shower, assuming I have a standard shower head?
Part Two: Which options should be available in the residence halls? Would you recommend replacing the current standard shower heads?

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Learning Goals

Engage students in discussion of breadth of considerations beyond personal preference.

Help students make environmentally sound personal choices.

Help students to analyze data and make an informed recommendation for dormitory showers.

Advance student literacy around sustainability issues.

Emphasize data analysis and critical thinking.

Context for Use

Class discussion; data collection and analysis over several weeks/sessions

Description and Teaching Materials

Students research costs for variety of household shower heads, the water flow rates and related water cost for 500 5-minute showers taken at home, costs for commercial shower heads, water flow rates and related water costs for 500 5-minute showers in the dorms, and other considerations brought to light in initial discussion, e.g., how long is a typical shower? What is its equivalent in 5-minute shower units? Should we adjust our shower unit to a different length?

Faculty member (or designated students) solicits data from Facilities Management Director regarding type and number of current shower heads in dorms, institutional costs involved with replacing a shower head in dorms, water rates and any related tariffs incurred by the institution regarding water usage.

Teaching Notes and Tips

A Tentative Timeline:

Session 1 30 minute Whole Class Discussion: Initial teasing out of Part One problem, variables and assumptions, assignment of roles to group members. Consideration should be given to topics such as how long is a typical shower? (I.e., What is its equivalent in 5-minute shower units? Should we adjust our showering unit to a different length?)
What are additional considerations needed when problem is transferred to the institutional level (Part Two)? Besides volume and maintenance worker cost not associated with a home, in our location, college and universities are subject to some taxes usually associated with hotels/motels as part of the "bed count" for the city.

Week interval for information collection related to individual home problem.

Session 2 Group analysis of Part One data. Group recommendations to individual home owner and reasoning shared with class. Discussion. Sharing of Institutional information and make plans for Part Two data collection and analysis.

Week Interval for institution-related data collection.

Session 3: Group analysis of Part Two data. Recommendations determined and presentations prepared.

Session 4: Presentations delivered to class.


Oral Presentation Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 18kB Jul26 13) developed by Monika Kiss, St. Leo University

References and Resources