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Water Use, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Water Use


If you’re like most people in the developed world, you don’t think much about water. Clean, drinkable water is delivered into your residence almost invisibly, and it’s always there when you turn on a faucet. As such, most North Americans don’t see the need for water conservation, particularly those who live in areas where freshwater supplies are abundant. But as populations grow and water supplies stay roughly constant, more and more pressure is being brought to bear on rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater aquifers and the need for conservation has become almost universal. These efforts are particularly ...

Renewable Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Renewable Capstone


In this capstone activity, we are going to look at the availability and economics of solar and wind power where you live. To do this, we are going to need maps of available sunshine provided by the U.S. government. We are also going to need to know the price of solar panels and wind turbines that are commercially available. Foremost, though, we are going to need to know how much electrical energy you use before we proceed to estimate the cost of using renewable energy. Finding out how much electrical energy we use is actually quite easy. All that ...

Wind Energy, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Wind Energy


This week, we are going to study the relationship between barometric pressure and wind speed and direction. If you watch the weather forecast during the news, you will usually hear the meteorologist (or weather reporter, as the case may be) state what the air pressure is for the day and in what direction it is changing. As we have seen above, differences in air pressure are what causes air to move from one place to another. If the local air pressure is decreasing, then this means that the area is becoming a lowpressure area, and that wind will start blowing ...

Solar Energy, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Solar Energy


This week’s activity is going to investigate the effects of color and collection area on the amount of solar energy absorbed by a system. While this sounds like a very simple task, it is complicated by several factors that can seriously impact results. The biggest of these factors is that a solar collector will begin to lose energy via heat transfer as soon as its temperature increases above its surroundings. Any system that we place in sunlight will begin to conduct heat through its support, convect warm air from its surface, and re-radiate energy in the infrared to its ...

Hydroelectric Energy, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Hydroelectric Energy


Water has always been one of mankind’s most vital resources. While the human body can go weeks without food, it can only survive for a couple of days without water consumption. Crops in the field will shrivel and die without a readily available supply. We use it for cleaning; we use it for cooking. And since almost the start of recorded history, we have used it as an energy source. Some of the first recorded mentions of hydropower go back over 2,000 years ago to ancient Greece and Egypt, where water wheels were connected to grindstones to turn ...

Ozone Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Ozone Capstone


You have already analyzed your emissions of smog-forming compounds from your vehicle, but it's important to realize that this is not your only contribution of these pollutants. Nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are also released by coal-fired power plants, natural gas combustion, gas-powered lawnmowers, and other sources. In the Capstone Activity for this module, you will be analyzing your nitrogen oxide emissions from these sources, combining them with your vehicle's emissions, and estimating your total emissions of smog-forming NOx.

Personal Ozone Impacts, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Personal Ozone Impacts


In this exercise you will be examining your individual emissions of ozone-forming compounds from driving. To do this, we will use the "Gas Mileage Impact Calculator" from the This calculator provides you with an estimate of your outputs of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons (VOC's) for your vehicle and driving habits. As you learned in the Transportation Air Quality brochure, a number of factors influence NOx and VOC emissions from vehicles. While this calculator does not take all of these factors into account, it does provide a good estimation of your emissions.

Stratospheric Ozone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Stratospheric Ozone


Last week, we studied ground-level ozone. We discovered that our modern way-of-life produces ozone in great quantities, which can be extremely harmful to the environment since it is a chemical poison to many life forms, including humans. This week, we are going to investigate stratospheric ozone. As we read last week, this ozone is responsible for filtering out ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and reducing levels of it found at the Earth's surface. This action is extremely important to life forms found in our ecosystems, since this highenergy form of ionizing radiation can have damaging effects. While our eyes allow ...

Ground-Level Ozone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Ground-Level Ozone


In this exercise we will be examining ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as "smog" ("smoke" + "fog" = "smog"). Smog is formed by the combination of air pollutants and sunlight, and can have adverse effects on humans and other organisms. You have likely heard of ozone in a different capacity. Ozone also occurs high above the earth's surface in the stratosphere, where it serves a protective function by blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The ozone in each case is the same molecule (three bound oxygen atoms), but in one location (high in the atmosphere) it is beneficial to living ...

Calories And Land, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Calories And Land


In this exercise, you will investigate how your own diet affects the agricultural demands of a country. You will do this by monitoring your food and drink intake for 3 days, and recording it on the attached activity sheet. At the end of this time, you will add up the number of calories consumed and find the average amount for each day. Most of your packaged food should come with some type of caloric guidelines. If it does not, a fairly complete listing of the calories of various foodstuffs can be found here. As best you can, you need to ...

Soil Composition, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Soil Composition


Soil, dirt, sediment, what’s the difference? Depending upon whom you ask, you might get a radically different answer. Some sources state that the only difference between them has to do with their location: soil is the unconsolidated material on the ground, dirt is that same matter on your hands or clothes, and sediment is the same material on the bottom of a river or lake. Others define the differences based upon the size and shape of the material grains. For the purposes of this activity, we are going to define things the following ways. Soil is a complex, unconsolidated ...

Rock Identification, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Rock Identification


In our everyday lives, we often find confusion between the terms rock and mineral. People will sometimes use the terms interchangeably since they are both found in the ground. However, they are distinctly different things. Minerals are solids with a definite chemical composition and crystalline structure. While rocks can be made of minerals, and therefore have some of these same properties, they can also be made of materials such as volcanic glass that do not contain a single crystal. The problem is that we do not have a really clear definition of a rock. Different sources will define the term ...

Carbon Cycle Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Carbon Cycle Capstone


For this module's Capstone Activity, we will be examining the idea of Carbon Credits. In the first two weeks of this laboratory module you saw how vegetation can sequester carbon in its tissues, and how the processes of photosynthesis and respiration affect the cycling of carbon dioxide. By integrating these activities with the carbon dioxide calculator exercise, you will determine the number of trees that would be needed to offset your personal carbon dioxide emissions. Complete the activities and questions on the Capstone Activity sheet.

Personal Carbon Impacts, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Personal Carbon Impacts


We have seen that plants sequester large sums of carbon in themselves. They are able to do this since, on average, photosynthesis produces more sugar than what is need by the plant during its respiration phase. As long as the plant is alive, it will continue to take carbon dioxide out of the air. However, we also found that a plant will return all of that carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere after it dies if the wood is burned or allowed to decay. In this week's lab, we are going to investigate what effect mankind has on the ...

Carbon Cycling, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Carbon Cycling


So let's take a minute and recap. You know that plants carry out photosynthesis to create sugar, and that all organisms use sugar to fuel cellular biochemical reactions through the process of cellular respiration. Not all of the sugar created by the plant is used up in respiration though, as some is used to create new plant biomass like roots, leaves, stems, wood, and bark. The carbon in plant biomass is only stored temporarily, as it will return to the atmosphere when the biomass decomposes, burns, or is eaten and metabolized. Up to now you have read about the ...

Trees And Cabon, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Trees And Cabon


To understand the environment, it is important to understand how organisms and their surroundings interact. Since all organisms use energy, we need to understand how energy can be used and transferred. Because all organisms are made of substances, it is equally important that we understand how chemicals are used and transported through an ecosystem. This exercise will help contribute to our understanding of the movements of compounds in ecosystems. The transport and transformation of substances in the environment are known collectively as biogeochemical cycles. These global cycles involve the circulation of elements and nutrients that sustain both the biological and ...

Ecological Footprint, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Ecological Footprint


Estimating your overall impact on the environment is a daunting task when you consider all the variables involved. Environmental scientists have developed a tool that does just this however, and presents the information in a manner that is easily visualized despite the underlying complexities. It is known as an “ecological footprint”, and it describes the area of land needed to supply the resources used and wastes produced by each individual. Nature’s ability to provide resources and process wastes is known as “natural capital”, and the goal of sustainable living is to use resources wisely so as to avoid depleting ...

Fossil Fuel Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Fossil Fuel Capstone


In this capstone activity, we are going to try to look at our individual fossil fuel usage. It would be nice if we could actually calculate how much each on of us is responsible for using. However, a great deal of our personal fossil fuel usage is hidden from us and almost impossible to calculate. For instance, the food that we eat was produced using oil in the fertilizer spread on the crops, fuel in the tractors that plowed the field, and diesel in the trucks that brought the food to market, amongst other things. The newspaper you read in ...

Natural Gas, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Natural Gas


In the world of fossil fuels, natural gas is often the overlooked ugly duckling. It gets lumped in with oil, as in “oil and gas industry”, even though the discussion usually centers upon oil. It does not help that gasoline, which is derived from oil, is shortened to “gas”. In many people’s mind, the “gas” in “oil and gas” refers to gasoline, and not natural gas. However, natural gas has much to offer as an energy source that makes it preferable to other forms of fossil fuels. It burns much cleaner than coal or oil, and it produces far ...

Coal, 2017 Kennesaw State University



Coal has been a source of energy for almost as long as Homo sapiens have inhabited the planet. The earliest record for its use dates back more than 3000 years to China where it may have been used to smelt copper. In areas where coal seams intersected the surface, coal was a ready supply of energy just waiting to be exploited. It did have some drawbacks, though. Most of the coal near the surface burns dirty, requiring some form of chimney if it is to be used indoors. It is also heavy to transport, limiting its use to regions near ...

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