In this lesson, students expand their understanding of solid waste management to include the idea of 3RC (reduce, reuse, recycle and compost). They will look at the effects of packaging decisions (reducing) and learn about engineering advancements in packaging materials and solid waste management. Also, they will observe biodegradation in a model landfill (composting).
In this engineering, math, and sustainability project students answer the question, “Can I ride 53 miles on a bike from the energy of a single burrito?” They must define their variables, collect and analyze their data, and present their results. By the end of this project, developed by Allen Distinguished Educator Mike Wierusz, students should have all the information they need to design a burrito that would provide them with the exact caloric content necessary to ride 53 miles.
Students are introduced to measuring and identifying sources of air pollution, as well as how environmental engineers try to control and limit the amount of air pollution. In Part 1, students are introduced to nitrogen dioxide as an air pollutant and how it is quantified. Major sources are identified, using EPA bar graphs. Students identify major cities and determine their latitudes and longitudes. They estimate NO2 values from color maps showing monthly NO2 averages from two sources: a NASA satellite and the WSU forecast model AIRPACT. In Part 2, students continue to estimate NO2 values from color maps and use Excel to calculate differences and ratios to determine the model's performance. They gain experience working with very large numbers written in scientific notation, as well as spreadsheet application capabilities.
Students learn what causes air pollution and how to investigate the different pollutants that exist, such as toxic gases and particulate matter. They investigate the technologies developed by engineers to reduce air pollution.
Global populations have for decades migrated more and more to coastal regions. This colonization of the coast has resulted in large areas of what was formerly rocky shores, salt marshes, and mudflats becoming built environment for people. What’s more, as sea levels rise more, coastal defenses are being put in place to protect towns and cities from the oceans. These coastal defenses are also replacing natural habitats that play a vital role in the life cycle of fish, including spawning locations, nurseries, and sources of planktonic food. This, in turn, is affecting the fish stocks in the oceans. During this lesson, students will gain a basic understanding of the idea that specific habitats are essential in the lifecycle of some species. Students will work through the engineering design process to build a ‘bio-block’ solution to make sea walls a more nature-friendly solution for flood protection.
Students will explore changes in Earth's atmosphere over the past few centuries, then design, build, and analyze a structure that control internal temperature without using additional energy.
Students observe and discuss a simple balloon model of an electrostatic precipitator to better understand how this pollutant recovery method functions in cleaning industrial air pollution.
Engineers design methods of removing particulate matter from industrial sources to minimize negative effects of air pollution. In this activity, students will undertake a similar engineering challenge as they design and build a filter to remove pepper from an air stream without blocking more than 50% of the air.
This resource is for teachers to develop their knowledge around climate science along with NGSS-aligned teaching strategies . Teachers can learn more about the following climate change impacts: coastal hazards, fire, human health, floods & droughts, agriculture and species & ecosystems. Users should reference the "STEM Seminar Slides_Template" as a guide for a daylong training and use the other materials as supplemental information and resources.
Students will construct a model of the carbon cycle to explore the cycling of matter in decomposition. Students will design a process to compost food waste and recycle products used during lunchtime to reduce the amount of garbage the school produces.
Students learn how the process of soil solarization is used to pasteurize agricultural fields before planting crops. Soil solarization is a pest control technique in agriculture that uses the sun’s radiation to heat the soil and eliminate unwanted pests that could harm the crops. The approach is compared to other pest control methods such as fumigation and herbicide application, highlighting the respective benefits and drawbacks. In preparation for the associated hands-on activity on soil biosolarization, students learn how changing the variables involved in the solarizing process (such as the tarp material, soil water content and addition of organic matter) impacts the technique’s effectiveness. A PowerPoint® presentation and pre/post-quiz is provided.
Students create a concept design of their very own net-zero energy classroom by pasting renewable energy and energy-efficiency items into and around a pretend classroom on a sheet of paper. They learn how these items (such as solar panels, efficient lights, computers, energy meters, etc.) interact to create a learning environment that produces as much energy as it uses.
Students gain a basic understanding of the properties of media soil, sand, compost, gravel and how these materials affect the movement of water (infiltration/percolation) into and below the surface of the ground. They learn about permeability, porosity, particle size, surface area, capillary action, storage capacity and field capacity, and how the characteristics of the materials that compose the media layer ultimately affect the recharging of groundwater tables. They test each type of material, determining storage capacity, field capacity and infiltration rates, seeing the effect of media size on infiltration rate and storage. Then teams apply the testing results to the design their own material mixes that best meet the design requirements. To conclude, they talk about how engineers apply what students learned in the activity about the infiltration rates of different soil materials to the design of stormwater management systems.
How does infrastructure meet our needs? What happens when we are cut off from that supporting infrastructure? As a class, students brainstorm, identify and explore the pathways where their food, water and energy originate, and where wastewater and solid waste go. After creating a diagram that maps a neighborhood's inputs and waste outputs, closed and open system concepts are introduced by imagining the neighborhood enclosed in a giant dome, cut off from its infrastructure systems. Students consider the implications and the importance of sustainable resource and waste management. They learn that resources are interdependent and that recycling wastes into resources is key to sustain a closed system.
Student teams find solutions to hypothetical challenge scenarios that require them to sustainably manage both resources and wastes. They begin by creating a card representing themselves and the resources (inputs) they need and wastes (outputs) they produce. Then they incorporate additional cards for food and energy components and associated necessary resources and waste products. They draw connections between outputs that provide inputs for other needs, and explore the problem of using linear solutions in resource-limited environments. Then students incorporate cards based on biorecycling technologies, such as algae photobioreactors and anaerobic digesters in order to make circular connections. Finally, the student teams present their complete biorecycling engineering solutions to their scenarios in poster format by connecting outputs to inputs, and showing the cycles of how wastes become resources.
Energy Matters is an adaptable science unit designed for middle school students. Through the activities in the unit, students will increase their knowledge of energy concepts, with a focus on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as build understanding of the relationship between energy production/consumption and climate change. The unit includes four modules that represent different levels: Home, State, Global, Community. The Next Generation Science Standards Science & Engineering Practice of Developing and Using Models is highlighted throughout the modules as a way for students to make sense of complex ideas. There are also connections to several Social Studies and Geography Standards. Each activity includes a “Foundation” and “Extension” note for teachers to consider before and after each of the activities
This six-day lesson provides students with an introduction to the importance of energy in their lives and the need to consider how and why we consume the energy we do. The lesson includes activities to engage students in general energy issues, including playing an award-winning Energy Choices board game, and an optional graphing activity that provides experience with MS Excel graphing and perspectives on how we use energy and how much energy we use.
Posters are provided for several different energy conversion systems. Students are provided with cards that give the name and a description of each of the components in an energy system. They match these with the figures on the diagram. Since the groups look at different systems, they also describe their results to the class to share their knowledge.
In this unit, students explore the various roles of environmental engineers, including: environmental cleanup, water quality, groundwater resources, surface water and groundwater flow, water contamination, waste disposal and air pollution. Specifically, students learn about the factors that affect water quality and the conditions that enable different animals and plants to survive in their environments. Next, students learn about groundwater and how environmental engineers study groundwater to predict the distribution of surface pollution. Students also learn how water flows through the ground, what an aquifer is and what soil properties are used to predict groundwater flow. Additionally, students discover that the water they drink everyday comes from many different sources, including surface water and groundwater. They investigate possible scenarios of drinking water contamination and how contaminants can negatively affect the organisms that come in contact with them. Students learn about the three most common methods of waste disposal and how environmental engineers continue to develop technologies to dispose of trash. Lastly, students learn what causes air pollution and how to investigate the different pollutants that exist, such as toxic gases and particulate matter. Also, they investigate the technologies developed by engineers to reduce air pollution.