THE GARBAGE DUMP DILEMMA
reviewed in The Mathematics Teacher, December 1993
The Garbage Dump Dilemma is a realistic, open-ended, problem-solving unit for grades 5-10. The town of Franklin will soon need space for a new landfill. Should eminent domain be invoked to acquire the space? Can alternatives be found to extend the landfill's life while benefiting the environment and the city? Should the problem be solved by an outside contractor? During an introductory video, the Franklin Gazette, and student notebooks filled with suggestions and useful information, cooperative-learning groups explore solutions through reading, data collection and analysis, and discussion while considering ecology, practicality, and longevity forecasts. Ultimately, each group finds a solution which is presented to the city council (the class) for a vote. A Teacher's Quick Start manual and a comprehensive Teacher's Reference manual are provided. These include teaching suggestions, solutions, and duplication masters. Optional worksheets are furnished for students needing further help. Also included are problem sheets involving articles and advertisements in the Gazette, a crossword puzzle, and follow-up suggestions. This week-long unit is exciting. The organized, highly motivating package makes outstanding use of relevant, ecologically-oriented problem whose solution requires investigating and formulating questions; analyzing alternatives with data, charts, and graphs; measurements; and estimation. The material is student directed. The teacher can best serve as a facilitator or expert resource. Most of the introductory material appears in the realistic, professional video.
Although the unit seems best suited for grades 5-7, it can also be used in basic eighth- to tenth-grade classes. The skills used include operations on whole numbers, fractions, and decimals; surrounding; estimation; percent, linear measurement; charts and graphs; circles; and formulas for area and volume.
Sidney J. Kolpas, Glendale College, Glendale, CA 91209-2894.
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