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Penn Laboratory on Energy, Sustainability and Environment

Seminar Leader:
Larry Gladney


Penn Laboratory on Energy, Sustainability and Environment will focus on enabling teachers to develop curriculum units that emphasize the comprehension of quantities, rates of change of quantities, and their relationships to everyday situations, physical systems, and public policy decisions. We will introduce technology that both captures data from physical situations and allows for the development of mathematical models of what the data represents. The advantage of teaching the mathematics in an integrated way with the science is that we can immediately motivate topics like statistical thinking as a way of using the technology to vary assumptions, making predictions that can then be examined with data, 2015 Seminar Descriptions and exploring consequences of decisions in the context of the model(s). Building models and explaining their predictions becomes a fun part of improved understanding of natural and technological limitations. The subjects of energy and sustainability allow for numerous examples of physical systems that can be readily understood by models created, and analyzed with mathematics that can be done with calculators and simple graphs. Examples of possible topics we can cover in this seminar are: What goes into understanding your electric bill? Is it “worth it” to install solar panels on the roof of your home to offset your bill? Is natural gas mining a wise investment for the state of Pennsylvania? For the United States as a nation? There will be reading and some viewing of web-sourced video (access to a reliable internet connection outside of seminar meetings is required). Laboratories and/or interactive demonstrations will be incorporated into almost every seminar session. Familiarity with exponential notation for numbers and facility with scientific calculators is a plus (the ability and willingness to learn both is required).

Unit TitleAuthor


The Electrochemistry of Cell Phone Batteries

Joseph L. Hill, Jr.
Keywords: batteries, battery, Danielson, Electrochemistry, lithium ion, oxidation, reduction, voltaic cell

Is It Sustainable? Renewable Fuels for the Future

Vicki Baker
Keywords: algebra, economy, fossil fuels, graphing, green cars, linear equations, renewable energy, sustainability

Development of an Energy Plan for Franklinville Using a Single Energy Source

Richardson Guerrier
Keywords: energy sources, environment, non-renewable energy, Physical Science, renewable energy

What Is It Like to Live Without Electricity?

Catherine Michini
Keywords: choice boards, data displays, electricity, Environmental Science, physics, probability, Probability and Statistics, quantitative tools, real world problems, scientific context, Statistics

What Did that Cell Phone Really Cost?

Alena Newpher-Lockard
Keywords: cell phones, energy, sustainability, Technology

What a Waste!

Tiffany Moyer
Keywords: literacy, litter, Math, recycling, Science, social studies, trash, waste

Economic Sustainability: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Matt Hunn
Keywords: algebra, economic sustainability, functions, intercepts, linear equations, slope, unit rates

Five Earths

Alexander Maxfield Arnosky
Keywords: being “the other”, ethics, science fiction, social commentary, time travel

Conservation: The Thermodynamics of Sustainability

Klint Kanopka
Keywords: advanced placement, ap physics, climate, design, energy, engineering, heat, maker, makered, making, Math, mathematics, physics, problem based learning, problem solving, project based learning, sustainability, Technology, temperature, Thermodynamics

LEED, Leadership in engineering and Environmental Design. Helping Student to Understand Energy and the Light Pollution

Mark Marshall
Keywords: electricity, engineering, environmental design, LEED, power, Technology