Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Environmental Footprint Calculator (EFC)

EFC is a great program for classroom discussions about the impact that humans, and particulary ourselves, have on the world, provides opportunities for students to read graphs, and allows students to test their own hypotheses about the effect changing their lifestyles has on the earth.

Students are asked a series of 13 questions about their lives: how much food they waste, how big their homes are, what kind of transportation they use, etc. Once all of the answers are entered, the students learn how their lifestyles affect the earth. The data is presented in four different ways:
  1. The number of Earths needed to support all humans if everyone lived the way they do
  2. The number of football fields needed to support their lifestyle
  3. How their own consumption breaks down (acres needed for housing, transportation, food, etc.)
  4. How their individual consumption compares with the average American, the averages of people living in Sweden, Nigeria, and five other countries as well as with the world as a whole.
Depending on the age of the student, they may not know the answers to all of the questions. Teachers may want to use this program as a part of a home-based activity in which students discuss the questions with their parents to make their data input more realistic. Related activities might include conjectures about ways that humans can have less impact on the Earth or having students answer the questions from the perspective of a poor person in a third-word county and comparing/contrasting the outcome to their own responses.

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