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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

How Big is Your Footprint

Lesson Description:
An ecological footprint is a way to roughly measure the impact of a person’s choices on the environment. When students go online to calculate how many earths it would take if everyone on the planet lived the way that they do, they will be astonished. Students increase their awareness of the impact of their choices on the earth by studying the ecological footprint concept. They also learn how to calculate the mean, median, mode, and standard deviation of a set of data.
Lesson Type:
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
2 class periods
Standards Addressed:
National Standards: 5-8
  • INT-F: 3.b. Human activities can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal.
  • INT-F: 3.c. Hazards can present personal and societal challenges because misidentifying the change or incorrectly estimating the rate and scale of change may result in either too little attention and significant human costs or too much cost for unneeded preventive measures.

National Standards: 9-12
  • SEC-C: 4.c. Humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. human destruction of habitats through harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.
  • SEC-F: 3.b. The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing human consumption places severe stress on the natural processes that renew some resources, and depletes those resources that cannot be renewed.

Materials Needed:
  • Access to the Internet. If a class set of computers is available, it will take each student about 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire. If only a handful of computers are available, then the calculation for the number of acres needed to support each students’ lifestyle will take a little longer.
  • Graph paper or poster paper
  • Calculators

School or Group:
U.S. Department of Energy
Contact Email:
Located in: Math

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