Two Day Seminar On The Mathematics Of Earth's Energy Sources


Day 1: Motivation for Alternatives, and Solar Experiments

  • 9:00 — 9:15:
    • welcome
    • who's-who
    • expectations
    • objectives
      • Participants will see how mathematical training can be accomplished while studying important issues surrounding energy.
      • Participants will gain knowledge about the current state of energy use in America.
      • Participants will gain an appreciation for the state of their own energy consumption.
      • Pathways for carbon will become more apparent to the participants.
      • Students will gain an intuitive understanding for the relationship between pitch of a solar panel and the energy produced.
      • Students will understand the relationship between blade angle and power of a wind/water turbine.
    • Math:
      • Gaining Skills Through Environment-Based Learning, from Closing the Achievement Gap, Lieberman and Hoody (1998)
        • EIC (Environment as an Integrating Concept) students outperformed their peers from traditional programs at all five schools that conducted these analyses.
        • Results:
          • Improved understanding of mathematical concepts and content (73%)
          • Better mastery of math skills (92%)
          • More enthusiasm for studying math (89%)
          • Math comprehension improved in objective scores:
            • 16 percentile points for low achievers
            • 13 percentile points for middle achievers
            • 7 percentile points for high achievers
        • Learning in the context of the environment helps students recognize the practical value of math for quantifying and understanding the world around them. As their perception of math changes, students become more committed to its study.
      • Mathematical Notions to focus on:
        • Estimation
        • Order of Magnitude
        • Units and Unit Conversion
        • Mathematical Modeling
  • 9:15 — 9:30:
    • "Why Alternative energy?" Discussion: why are BP and so many other energy companies touting "Wind, Solar", etc.?
      • Recent Human and Environmental Disasters:
        • 29 miners dead in Big Branch mine disaster, Massey/Blankenship
        • BP's Gulf oil spill:
          • Government survey of the situation:
          • Estimation exercise:
            • BP promises to make good on all claims, but "You can't put a price tag on nature."
            • How many gallons per day can flow out of a 6-inch pipe?
            • I heard a fellow exclaim over some of the higher-end estimates, saying "it's impossible to get 20,000 barrels of oil a day through a 6-inch pipe!?" What do you think?
        • Martin County coal slurry disaster - see also..., also the MSHA review of its own performance (bad). "…30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill…."
        • Tennessee river coal slurry disaster (…101 times larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill….)
        • Mountaintop Removal
      • Non-renewable
      • Conserve oil or coal for other uses (e.g. plastics, or coke for steel production)
      • We're held hostage to foreign countries and their resources.
      • Global Warming
  • 9:30 — 10:15
  • 10:15 — 10:30: break
  • 10:30 — 12:00
    • Solar is the ultimate power source (precursor to all fossil fuels, of course)
    • Example from Maths Matters
    • Solar Activities: there's more than one way to collect solar energy:
      • Parabolic (quadratic function) collectors/reflectors: Flashlights and the sun
      • Demo by Dolph Himmelbauer <moc.rewopralosnoci|hploD#moc.rewopralosnoci|hploD>
      • modeling solar response to angle of inclination
        • What mathematical features do we want our model to possess?
    • How can we make this relevant to your grade level?

Day 2: Other alternative options




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