Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to consider the use of these materials. The issues we as environmental educators face are probably some of the most challenging in science education! The content of environmental science is complex, adequate resources for helping students understand these complexities are rare, and often times there are significant political and community sensitivities to the topics being presented. Try teaching air pollution science in a town that depends on coal-burning industries for its livelihood!
The Shodor Education Foundation, a non-profit science and mathematics education group, has developed these materials. We believe that mathematical models, while not replacing well-designed field activities, represent an appropriate and authentic way of helping students understand the scientific, political, and economic issues surrounding environmental topics. Students can easily change variables, perform "what-if" exercises, and otherwise use the models to get a sense of cause-and-effect relationships. We also believe that mathematical models help the student to understand the significant relationships between science, mathematics, and computing. "Older" students especially have the sophistication to look at the underlying mathematics of models such as the ones presented here, and can begin to understand how scientific events can be represented mathematically and analyzed computationally.
These materials are designed to be used as a class activity, as an enrichment/supplement to students "bored" with classroom activities, and/or as a jumping off point for extracurricular activities, science fairs, and the like. We are anxious to continue to expand these materials (as well as develop others) to provide you, the classroom teacher, with quality modeling activities for your students.
We hope we can be of service to you in your use of our energy balance modeling materials. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, suggestions, requests for support, etc.
Computational Science Educator
The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.
919 286-1911 (Voice/TDD)
919 286-7876 (fax)