Model Eliciting Activity: Green Roof

Green Roof MEAThis is a model eliciting activity for high school students who have had algebra to do as an exercise using the engineering design process in any STEM course. This MEA examines rooftop gardens for commercial buildings and challenges students to consider energy consumption. Model-eliciting activities (MEAs) are activities that encourage students to invent and test models. They are posed as open-ended problems that are designed to challenge students to build models in order to solve complex, real-world problems. Learn more about MEAs.

MEA Description

The Green Roof MEA requires teams of students to develop a generalizable procedure for making a business decision on a green roof option that will provide the largest return on investment for a commercial developer. The motivation for developing this procedure is established using a realistic context in which the commercial developer plans to select one of her properties to install a rooftop garden or green roof. The student teams must take into account the building’s total cost of energy consumption, cost of installation of the green roof, and the predicted yearly savings. The student teams are required to (1) do research on energy and calculate consumption, (2) develop a reusable general procedure for selecting a commercial building to recommend installation using the values provided and determined and (2) use the procedure to test their assumptions and algorithm when the developer introduces another option.

Implementation Strategy

  1. Individual Activity  Individually, students read the first letter with problem description from the client which establishes the need to develop an algorithm for selecting a building for green roof installation. Students individually begin to think about what factors need to be considered. The focus is on establishing what factors may be most important to consider.
  2. Team Activity Part 1  In teams of 2-4, students develop a memo to the commercial developer with an algorithm, rationale, and recommendation, including a ranking, or prioritization, of how important the provided items are and the intended use of those items. Their procedure is intended to be general enough that it can be applied to a similar set of buildings to analyze with minimal adjustments to the procedure. The letter should include an explicit procedure that can be replicated by another group. If time allows, have the groups trade and test the algorithms.
  3. Team Activity Part 2  The students are then given a second letter from the commercial developer, and the students should be able to use the same model/algorithm/procedure created in response to the first letter.
There should be no single “correct” answer, as each team’s rationale for how they prioritized their choices and thus created procedure for making a decision should adequately justify the recommendation they determine.
Discussion prior to this MEA might include urban heat affect, rooftop gardens, engineering design process.

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This MEA was completed as a course assignment at Purdue University under the instruction of Dr. Johannes Strobel. The format of the MEA description and implementation strategy is modeled from Purdue

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