Stratospheric Ozone, 2017 Kennesaw State University
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
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, 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
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
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
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
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 ...
Oil, 2017 Kennesaw State University
We are a country that runs on oil. From the gasoline in our cars to the plastic in our computers to the detergents that we put in our dishwashers, we rely on oil for our modern way of life. It cannot be understated just how strong of a role it plays in our economy and politics. It is used in tractors that plow and harvest food. It is used to power manufacturing plants and as feedstock in commercial goods. It powers all the trains and trucks that bring goods to market. It runs our cars, heats and cools our homes ...
Nuclear Energy Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University
Nuclear Energy Capstone
The United States has a problem with energy independence. The problem has nothing to do with a lack of energy production or availability. We are the largest producer of energy in the world, and have centuries’ worth of fossil fuels, as well as an enormous supply of nuclear and alternative energies, at our disposal. Our energy dependence on other countries is a result of the fact that we are also the leading consumers of energy in the world, being second only to Canada (population 32 million, compared to the 283 million in the U.S.) in per capita consumption of ...
Radiation Exposure, 2017 Kennesaw State University
Nuclear energy was going to make the world a much better place during the 1950’s. The promise of an almost limitless supply of cheap energy that did not produce any soot or atmospheric pollutants almost seemed to good to be true. During the 1960's and 1970's, the United States nuclear industry expanded, as fears of a looming end to oil and gas reserves fueled construction. But by the late 1970’s, though, the wheels had come off of the nuclear wagon. The cheapness of the energy never did pan out, as prices of electricity from nuclear energy ...
Nuclear Power Plants, 2017 Kennesaw State University
Nuclear Power Plants
As we discussed in the last activity, energy is released when isotopes decay. This energy can either be in the form of electromagnetic radiation or the kinetic energy of the nuclear fragments. The important question for us is, “How can this energy be converted into a useful form like electricity?” The most obvious thing to do is to allow either of these forms of energy to be absorbed by a substance in order to increase its internal energy and thus, increase its temperature. As the substance warms up above its surroundings, a temperature difference is created, and allows for any ...
Nuclear Decay, 2017 Kennesaw State University
Almost any phrase that has the word “nuclear” in it has a bad reputation. The term conjures up images of mushroom clouds and radioactive mutants. It is interesting to note that in the 1940’s and 50’s, the term that applied to energy derived from the decay radioactive material was atomic energy. This term was somewhat correct, since the energy was coming from the breakdown of the atom. It was not until later that the more appropriate term nuclear energy was used as more people began to understand that the energy was coming from the breakdown of the nucleus ...
Home Energy Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University
Home Energy Capstone
The other three weeks of the Home Energy Module study energy flow and usage in our homes. In the R-Factor activity, we observed that the material used in the construction of our homes has a tremendous impact on the rate at which heat flows through its exterior surfaces. In Home Audit and Home Analysis activities, we performed an energy audit of our homes to estimate the amount of money that it costs to power it. As you have seen during our studies, there are many factors that affect the cost of energy in our homes. The right choices of materials ...
Home Analysis, 2017 Kennesaw State University
The average household spends over $1,300 a year for energy to run the many devices found in the home. In this week's lab, we are going to investigate ways to save both energy and money that will not seriously impact your current lifestyle, i.e. you can keep watching as much television as you like, but you might want to put on a sweater to do it. In order to do this, we are going to have to use the measurements of our homes that we made two weeks ago. Last week, we studied how different materials affect ...