Documentation:Learning Activities/Physics for Future Leaders

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Introduction

During Lessons 4 and Lesson 7, you will participate in a scenario where you adopt a leadership role that requires you to respond to an issue or crisis, providing a persuasive argument as to how you think the situation should be resolved. Each of the tasks will be worth 10% of your final grade. See the marking criteria below for more detail.

Learning Outcomes

These activities are designed for you to:

  • demonstrate the use of physics ideas/concepts in decision making.
  • demonstrate the ability to recognize the difference between opinion based and scientifically argued points of view
  • write arguments based on scientific concepts and scientific evidence.
  • communicate scientific ideas effectively.
  • participate in and contribute to an online learning environment.
  • gain experience in supplying and receiving constructive criticism.

Instructions

  1. You will be assigned to a small group of two or three by your Open Learning Faculty Member and will given one of three roles. For each of the scenarios there will be two roles that will argue for or against an issue, and the third role will be that of a government representative, who will have to integrate both perspectives into an final summary and provide a decision on the outcome of the situation.
  2. Read the posted scenario for the week’s topic, and start to gather your evidence. Write a 300 word argument, from your role’s perspective, ensuring that you are using scientific facts and evidence to support your position.
  3. Each member of the team will need to respond to the two arguments, either asking a probing question, providing evidence for or against their claims, or asking for further evidence to help you better understand the situation.
  4. Once everyone has responded to the two sides, the member of the group who is taking on the role of a government representative, will gather the evidence, and post a summary of the decision or solution.

Note that the minimum participation is as follows: submitted report, single response to each report.

Marking Criteria

The learning goal addressed by these group work topics include:

  • demonstrate the use of physics ideas/concepts in decision making.
  • demonstrate the ability to recognize the difference between opinion based and scientifically argued points of view
  • write arguments based on scientific concepts and scientific evidence.
  • communicate scientific ideas effectively.
  • participate in and contribute to an online learning environment.
  • gain experience in supplying and receiving constructive criticism.

You will be evaluated on your contributions for each task using the following marking rubric. Note that 80% of your final marking will come from the content of your report and your use of the evidence, and 20% will be based on your participation in the task.

Criteria 3 marks 2 marks 1 marks
Quality of posting Postings can be linked to course readings and there is evidence of synthesis and application of the readings to the topic. Postings can be linked to course readings done and demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of course topic Minor evidence that course readings were done and student demonstrates some knowledge of course topics
Communication Skills Posting and report are clear, concise and free of grammatical, mechanical errors. Students use scientific terminology and provide scientific evidence in their reasoning when discussing course topics Postings are usually clear, concise and free of grammatical, mechanical errors

Students sometimes use scientific terminology when discussing course topics

Postings are too short/long and/or unclear and hard to understand

Students seldom use scientific terminology when discussing course topics

Critical Thinking and self-reflection Exceptionally well- supported, thoughtful, insightful comments made on others’ and own postings Some evidence of critical thought and self-reflection on others’ and own postings Little or no evidence of critical thought and reflection on others’ and own postings
Conviction The language and arguments reflect a clear purpose. There are no contradictory statements. No clear purpose in the argument or language. Sentence (or sentences) are clearly contradictory.


Task I: Nuclear Facility Arbitration (Lesson 4)

Roles: government arbitrator, company representative, union representative.


The union and the company are currently embroiled in a bitter argument over the monthly "allowable" dose of radiation. The union would like to INCREASE the allowable exposure to their members by 0.2 rem a month. This is requested so the workers are eligible to work longer overtime hours. The union suggests the workers should have the final say in the dose of themselves, the company points out the allowable dose is set by government and is concerned about increasing risk of health problems to the workers. For this discussion assume that there are 100 workers involved. The union representative should take the stance that workers should have the right to decide for themselves…overtime is voluntary. The Company representative should apply the linear hypothesis, and be aware that the company does cover health insurance premiums. The government should also look at the linear hypothesis and consider that this is only one company in the country...what happens if all workers at all facilities (you may assume 10,000) would like the same change…keeping in mind that health care is government run.


National radiation protection standards are framed for both Occupational and Public exposure categories.http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf05.html. The ICRP recommends that the maximum permissible dose for occupational exposure should be 2 rem per year averaged over five years (ie 10 rem in 5 years) with a maximum of 5 rem in any one year. For public exposure, 100 milli-rem per year averaged over five years is the limit. In both categories, the figures are over and above background levels, and exclude medical exposure*.


The company and the union representatives must each post their initial positions on the discussion board, what their goals are and why they would like to achieve that goal. This should be limited to less than 300-500 words. All three sides should review these posts and critique them. The government representative must then post a final summary and ruling, again about 300-500 words, taking into account the arguments from each side.

Task II: Tar Sands (Lesson 7)

Roles: government representative, company representative, environmental representative.

The Alberta oil sands is and energy intensive way to extract oil from the ground. This is mainly because the “tar-sands”, or bitumen is oil and sand mixed together. This is in contrast to the “traditional” oil well where, due to geological pressures, the oil is forced up and out of the well in liquid form – it is literally bursting out of the ground. To extract oil from the bitumen (see for example http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/canadas-oil-sands/) , first the bitumen is scooped out of the ground and placed in piles. Then they are loaded onto a massive dump truck. The dump truck transports the sand to a conveyor belt. The bitumen is then mixed with a large amount of hot water or steam. The steam helps to separate the oil from the sand. The sand and water are pumped away into a tailings pond and the bitumen is piped away as “synthetic crude” for processing.

As you can imagine large amounts of heat and fuel (electric, diesel and natural gas) are required to extract the synthetic crude, and most of this needs to be brought to the mine site. It has been suggested that nuclear power plants should be created in northern Alberta to provide electricity and heat for the separation of oil from the bitumen.

The company representative is arguing for such a power plant, the environmentalist is arguing against such a plant, and the government representative needs to make the final decision on approval.

The company and the environmental representatives must each post their initial positions on the discussion board, what their goals are and why they would like to achieve that goal. This should be from 300 to 500 words. These positions should be as science based as possible (avoid opinion or emotional pleas). All three sides should review these posts and critique them. The government representative must then post a final summary and ruling, again about 300-500 words, taking into account the arguments from each side, and coming forward with a decision based on the “facts”.