Food, water, energy—we need solutions to the environmental issues of our day.
This lesson is composed of three challenges, each addressing a different aspect of how to design an efficient public bus system for a fictitious town while taking into account the benefits and drawbacks of various fuel options. All challenges involve mathematical and computational thinking and modeling that is connected not only to the NGSS, but also to the middle school Common Core math standards. Depending on the time you have and your curriculum goals, you can employ one, two, or all three of the challenges in your classroom, although we recommend progressing in order from #1 to #3 as each challenge builds on the previous one(s).
In attempting these challenges, students will find that there is often more than one way to solve a problem. The purpose of these challenges is for students to reason out their own logical methods for solving a problem using math and computational skills with little initial guidance.
Students should have a basic understanding of fossil fuels and their impacts on the environment before approaching these challenges. It is recommended your students watch the video What’s the Deal With Fossil Fuels? and complete the accompanying activity The Heat is On: Cause and Effect and Climate before tackling this lesson.