2015 Earth Science Curriculum

Renewable Energy for Hospital

The University of MN Medical Center needs a new mobile hospital. They contacted the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) for help with funding. The MRES will only give the University of MN medical center money to build it if it runs on MN renewable resources. The mobile hospital cannot depend on the use of gas, batteries, or electrical outlets. All electrical energy must be generated on site. Student teams were asked to design a device to generate renewable energy capable of providing power for the mobile hospital in rural areas in MN.

Mining Minnesota

This unit is designed to place students in the role of mining engineers who are tasked with designing a process to separate iron from other crushed rock material. Iron is a valuable nonrenewable material resource found in Minnesota. The vision of this unit is to accurately depict how iron is obtained and processed, and how the process modifies iron to be more useful. Students will be engaged in the engineering design process while integrating science and mathematical knowledge and concepts.

Sandbox Sorter

The school needs help getting ready for a new playground. They want to know what the best sand is for building with in the sandbox. They will also need a tool that can help to sort the sand into the best sand before they put it in the sandbox. Students will act as both scientists and engineers to first determine the best sand to build with, and then develop a tool to quickly sort the sand by size. This will help to get the new playground built as soon as possible.

Camp Itasca Renewable Energy Project

Students are asked to investigate Camp Itasca, located just north of Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota, in order to recommend a renewable energy source to supplement the current infrastructure. The goal of the new energy source will be to improve the park’s ability to power a new year-round multi-purpose recreational facility, multiple cabins for overnight customers, and staff housing for their employees. Students will need to research different renewable energy options and select the most appropriate choice for the camp. This new energy source must be built with minimal impact on the state park environment but also consider the Mississippi river and the communities downstream. Initial cost of the new energy source and maintenance costs will need to be within an acceptable range, and total electrical power output must satisfy this facility year round. Environmental pollution concerns are very important because of the strict rules governing a state park. The Itasca State Park board will be voting on different proposals and awarding the bid.

Renewable Energy for TC United

TC United Management Company, the owner of the TC United soccer team is asking students to design an iconic, multi-use, environmentally friendly stadium using Minnesota materials and energy resources. Students use authentic data collection and evidence-based reasoning to choose specific aspects of the building that would be designed by engineers. First, they investigate and test the properties of common building materials found in Minnesota. A subsequent opportunity to develop expertise on material and energy resources through research helps them justify their choices based on the pros and cons of each. Students then examine the feasibility of different forms of renewable energy for the stadium power source using resource maps of the state. They pick a site for the stadium based on power availability and low environmental impact. As a final product, students work in a design team to complete a proposal for the client that takes into account the needs of different stakeholders, and the criteria and constraints of the design challenge.