Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carbon Footprint -- Environment Focused STEM Project

Bring an authentic environment-based 21st Century Math Project  to your Algebra classroom with Multi-step inequalities! Help student understand why we are still getting blizzards in the spring!

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra 1, skills)
Math Concepts: Multi-step Inequalities, Unit Conversion, Multiple Representations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Travel, Local Food, Carbon Emissions, Environmental Science
Teaching Duration: 2-4 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 27 Page PDF (1 project, 2 assignment and handouts) 
PDF Version: Carbon Footprint @ TPT

The Product: Students complete an Amazing Race style challenge where they must finish a cross country trip and select choices that are within their carbon footprint, financial and time budgets!

Hey kid, all administrators drive Hummers.
It's required! No, I don't know about its
carbon footprint! Oh, really?!
While you may not raise sufficient capital to put a fleet of windmills in your school parking lot, you can still teaching some environmentally conscious mathematics! 

In the 2000s, the Kyoto Protocol aimed to set goals for an individuals carbon emissions by country. The United States decided this wasn't something they wanted to be part of. When doing some inequality mathematics, you can quickly see how challenging this would be for an average, I like to drive my own car 30 miles a day and eat a hamburger for dinner type of person. Although students may not make an drastic life changes (maybe they will) it will at least be an assignment that ensures they at least see a link!

Although students will learn elements of carbon emissions, the lessons focus on creating and using multi-step inequalities to model situations and make decisions. With an increasing focus on environmental issues this explores a view on a science topic that students may never have been exposed to before.

You mean like I have a theoretical
footprint because I eat Hot Cheetos?

-- Planes, Trains & Automobiles.  Students will write multistep inequalities to determine if individual’s daily transportation needs exceeds the CO2 emissions totals described in the Kyoto Protocol.

--  Well-Traveled Food. Students will use the Food Footprint Chart to complete this assignment which provides a look at food production and transportation emissions and the difference between local and traditional food sources.

which leads to the project --

-- the Amazing [more environmentally conscious] Race. Using a CO2 Emissions Per Activity chart, student will make travel and food choices on a cross country trip.

This is all great and everything,
but what could be do to take action
in our local community?
It doesn't take much looking to find this issue in the news in one shape or form and kids like travel and food maybe it's a great match for you!

EXTENSION: Student could certainly track their own Footprint over a 24 hour period. Other ideas could be things like a recycling club, a push for automated light switches, a student presentation to the school. 

This 21st Century Math Project is endorsed by Polar Bears everywhere! Well that's an exaggeration, I've only asked the two at our zoo and I'm not sure if that's exactly a representative random sample since they were born in captivity.

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