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This Spreadsheet Across the Curriculum activity imagines that a Geology of National Parks student is in the Washington DC area and went to Catoctin Mountain Park MD to hike one of the trails with a friend. The hikers were given a topographic map and a trail map of the park and, after the hike in which they enjoyed seeing the geology, they used the map information to determine how many calories they burned off during the hike. For the purpose of the module, students back home in a Geology of National Parks course are told which hike to take (a 5-mile loop) and how fast to hike it (2 mi/hr). The selected loop trail is divided into segments, and the students are provided with information on the length and change in elevation in each segment. The students use this information to calculate, with a spreadsheet, the slopes in each trail segment and then the grades and, finally, the slope angles using the arctangent. In the next part of the activity, the students are given an energy-expenditure graph (energy expenditure/kg as a function of hiking rate and incline) and asked to determine from the graph how many calories they burned in each trail segment -- all the while making minor unit conversions. As their final unit-conversion problem, they calculate how many Big Macs they burned off on their hike.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number NSF DUE-0836566. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum, Module SSACgnp.RA776.ML1.1

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