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Topic

Rates, Ratios & Proportions

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th

Subject

Math

Duration

45 minutes

Regional Focus

Global

Format

Google Docs, Google Slides

The Carbon Footprint of Food

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Oct 2, 2022

Synopsis

This lesson shows that different foods have different environmental impacts. Students will calculate ratios and practice proportional thinking. 


Step 1 - Inquire: Students explore an interactive bar graph showing the resources it takes to create our food.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students select different foods that they wish to compare. Students complete a series of mathematical calculations showing their knowledge of arithmetic and ratios.


Step 3 - Inspire: In groups, students discuss what they have learned and answer several questions.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Inquire
15 minutes

  • Teacher creates groups of 3-4 students each.

  • Students explore the data in the Environmental Impacts of Food Data Explorer.
  • Groups consider which foods they might want to compare in the Investigate step of this lesson.
  • Students can explore all aspects of this data.
  • Students should refer to the glossary for key vocabulary.
Investigate
20 minutes
  • Each group of students selects three pairs of foods each.

  • For example, a group may select: cheese & tomatoes, cassava & potatoes, and beef (beef herd) & maize.
  • Each group completes slides in the Student Slideshow, filling in the name of the food and the kgCO2eq for each food.
  • Students answer four questions for each pair of foods.
  • Teacher and students can use the example food pair calculations before, during, or after their calculations. The speaker notes include a walkthrough of each calculation.
Inspire
10 minutes
  • Students discuss the questions in the group reflection.
  • One scribe from each group writes answers for their group.
Teaching Tips

Positives

    • This lesson is great because it shows that different foods have different environmental impacts.
    • It shows the great disparity between certain types of foods. For example, creating 1 kg of beef (from a beef herd) emits 99.48 kgCO2eq. Creating 1 kg of potatoes creates only 0.46 kgCO2eq. Raising beef creates more than 200x the carbon dioxide than raising the same amount of potatoes!

    Additional Prerequisites

    • You will need to share the Student Slideshow with students and grant them editing rights. They will all be writing in the same slideshow.

    • In general, animals and animal products use far more resources than plants.
    • Kilograms are used in this lesson. Some students will be unfamiliar with this unit. You can read more about the kilogram at Britannica. An easy conversion from kilograms to pounds is 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.
    • Kilograms of CO2 equivalent are also used in this lesson. This is pretty abstract for the students. You can have them imagine holding a 2.2-pound ball in their hands. This ball has mass and takes up space. This is the "pollution" generated when creating different foods.

    Differentiation

    • You can create groups of students with mixed abilities.

    • If a group finishes early, you can ask these extension questions:
      • "Food 1’s emissions are what % of food 2’s emissions?"
      • "Can you convert your answers from kilograms to pounds?"
    • The Investigate section features a completed table of calculations. You can use this before the students begin their calculations. You can also share this with certain students or groups and let other groups complete their calculations on their own. Another option is to have students use the completed table to check their thinking when they are finished. There is a walkthrough of calculations in the speaker notes of this slide.
    Scientist Notes

    This lesson is thoroughly sourced. It is engaging and suitable for students to understand how to measure carbon footprint from food sources. The activities in the lesson would also enable them to build their quantitative skills to determine the extent of CO2 impact on the environment. The lesson has passed our science review, and it is advised for classroom use.

    Standards
    • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
      • Ratios & Proportional Relationships (6-7)
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.1 Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. For example, "The ratio of wings to beaks in the bird house at the zoo was 2:1, because for every 2 wings there was 1 beak." "For every vote candidate A received, candidate C received nearly three votes."
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.2 Understand the concept of a unit rate a/b associated with a ratio a:b with b ≠ 0, and use rate language in the context of a ratio relationship. For example, "This recipe has a ratio of 3 cups of flour to 4 cups of sugar, so there is 3/4 cup of flour for each cup of sugar." "We paid $75 for 15 hamburgers, which is a rate of $5 per hamburger."
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3 Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.RP.A.2 Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.
      • The Number System (6-8)
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.B.3 Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation.
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.NS.A.1 Apply and extend previous understandings of addition and subtraction to add and subtract rational numbers; represent addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram.
        • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.NS.A.2 Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division and of fractions to multiply and divide rational numbers.

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