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Sustainability Counts! National Initiative

In honor of Mathematics Awareness Month April 2013 - Mathematics of Sustainability, we invite educators from across the nation to teach a math lesson that connects math with sustainability. We include a number of model lessons here as well as our showcase event:

The Sustainability Counts! Energy Challenge

Students often wonder about math--what is it good for? Why should I learn it? The world is facing a range of serious challenges on issues such as the environment, energy, and climate change. As both the collection of Math Awareness Month essays and our model lessons make clear, mathematics has an important role to play in understanding and addressing these sustainability issues. In addition to providing our students with the opportunity to see how math can be applied to important real world problems, the model lessons can provide students with the opportunity to make a positive contribution to addressing the challenges of sustainability in their schools, home and community.

Participation in Sustainability Counts! National Initiative:

We invite K-16 educators to participate in the Sustainability Counts! National Initiative by teaching one of the model lessons provided, using their own lesson/s or implementing the Energy Challenge. We would like to create a national database of energy saving actions taken by schools that participate to demonstrate the commitment of the education community to empowering students with the knowledge and skills they need to help society address sustainability issues.

We encourage educators to partner with their colleagues in other fields to do joint lessons around sustainability. We particularly encourage the involvement of facilities personnel from schools. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge related to running operations in a school and can provide real life perspectives on ways to save energy. See the Math Awareness Month essay Continual Benchmarking: Energy Management for an example of an exemplary partnership among facilities personnel, teachers and students that also resulted in dramatic financial savings to the school district.

Registration For Sustainability Counts! National Initiative:

We ask that teachers complete the registration form to let us know that they will be joining us in this important endeavor. Educators who register will receive up to 5 FREE Math Awareness Month Posters!

Reporting your Energy Savings and Getting a Certificate of Participation:

Teachers who do the Energy Challenge or another lesson that involves energy saving measures should report their energy savings here by May 31, 2013.  Filling in the energy savings report will allow us to send teachers a Certificate of Participation. If the energy saving project implemented is a collaborative project with other teachers, we will honor all teachers in the school who participate with a Certificate of Participation. We will post the nationwide energy savings on the webpage in June.  We hope to demonstrate a substantial savings of electricity and money for schools and school districts across the country!

Any educator who teaches a math and sustainability lesson can receive a Certificate of Participation by filling out the Sustainability Counts! Survey.  We encourage teachers to share information on the success of their lesson.

Sustainability Counts! Resources:

Below educators will find a variety of resources to help make their Sustainability Counts! project successful. We would love to have teachers share any lesson plans they create by posting to the Math and Sustainability Activities page so that other teachers might benefit from the richness of the educational community.  We especially encourage teachers to send in links to student-created YouTube videos about their efforts!

1.  Sustainability Counts! Energy Challenge

    1. K-12 Energy Challenge: Instructions, Plug Loads, Plug Loads and Phantom Loads spreadsheet, and Electric Nameplates Investigation, ASE Energy Saving Tips
    2. Higher Education Energy Challenge: IHE Energy Challenge Instructions, Sample Course Activity to Reduce Carbon Footprint

2. Model Lessons

      1. Math Challenge (elementary level)--from NEED's Energy Math Challenge unit. Examining a chart of monthly electricity usage.
      2. School Survey
      3. School Energy Map
      4. Conscientious Consumer
      5. Lighting activity with background information (intermediate/secondary level)--from NEED's Efficiency and Conservation Units. Compare the costs and benefits of different types of light bulbs. Use the web to find the latest prices for LED bulbs. Their cost keeps dropping.
      6. Nameplates activity (secondary/college level)–from NEED’s Learning and Conserving unit. Determining power rating from the nameplate on the device and then estimating energy usage. 
      7. Power bill activity with sample gas and electric bills (elementary level)–from NEED’s Building Buddies unit
      8. Arctic Sea Ice and Linear Equations Algebra 1 version (Algebra 1, Pre-Calculus and above), Teachers guide, Pre-Calculus version, Sea ice data
      9. Atmospheric CO2 Levels and Rates of Change (pre-calculus, calculus, statistics), Teachers Guide, CO2 Data
      10. Solar Panels, Energy and Area Under the Curve (pre-calculus, calculus), Teachers Guide, Sample Energy Bill, Power Data

The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Application (COMAP) has made available, free of charge until the end of June 2013, a number of its college level modules that involve mathematics and sustainability. Additional materials are available at the Educational and Related Resources page.

Publicizing Local Sustainability Counts! Events:

To create a buzz around the Mathematics of Sustainability and our Sustainability Counts! National Initiative, we encourage teachers to let their local press know about any efforts they make to save energy and money in their schools and school districts.  Below educators can find resources they can use to alert the press to the powerful steps they and their students are taking to be part of the sustainability solution!

Exemplary School District:

We congratulate the North Penn School District, Hatfield, PA which has been designated by the EPA as the 2013 Energy Star Partner of the Year!  Read about North Penn’s million dollar energy savings and other successes. Check out the website created by the district’s middle school students that describes their energy efficiency efforts and how to be an Energy Star school.

Questions? Email mathaware2013@gmail.com.


Mathematics Awareness Month is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area.
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