About QELP (The Quantitative Environmental Learning Project )

QELP Introduction

The Quantitative Environmental Learning Project (QELP) was developed by Greg Langkamp (mathematics) and Joe Hull (geology and environmental science) at Seattle Central Community College.

The central goal of QELP is to promote quantitative science literacy and applied mathematics through curricular revision at the college level by linking and integrating mathematics and environmental science. One of our main goals is to promote interdisciplinary education between science and mathematics at the beginning college level (first or second year). One reason for the absence of integrated science-math programs in colleges is that few appropriate classroom-ready resources are available, particularly in environmental mathematics. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded us a 2-year grant to help address this problem and make the results available to educators.

QELP is funded through the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) at the NSF. Our project number is 9980740, which runs from July 2000 to July 2002. For NSF hosted information about this and other NSF projects, search the PIRS database at: http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/PIRStart

QELP will generate two main resources for educators: data sets and projects, as described below.


QELP Data Sets

As teachers of an integrated math and environmental science course, we have found it very time-consuming to obtain and understand real data that (1) illustrate both science and mathematical concepts clearly, (2) contain the desired degree of complexity (from simple to obtuse), (3) lend themselves to mathematical manipulation, and (4) lead to problem solving or analysis of environmental issues. To remedy this problem, we are compiling real data on a dozen earth and environmental science topics that can be used in conjunction with each of a dozen college level algebra topics - about 100-150 data sets altogether. Educators can use the data as they see fit; in exercises, homework assignments, in-class examples, etc.

To go to the data sets, click here.

If you would like to contribute data sets, or draw our attention to data resources, or to comment on the data sets posted at our website, please contact either Joe Hull (joe.hull@seattlecolleges.edu) or Greg Langkamp (greg.langkamp@seattlecolleges.edu) at Seattle Central Community College. Thanks for your assistance!

One last note: We'd like to thank our webmaster and fellow faculty member, Lawrence Morales, for his great work in designing this site.


QELP Projects

We have written a series of projects which investigate topics from environmental and earth science with introductory college mathematics. These exercises are typically inquiry based, often hands-on (in some exercises, students gather their own data), and involve group work, collaboration and active learning. The projects are based on real data taken from environmental and earth science studies, and subsequently published in the technical literature and/or made available via the Internet. The projects make use of common classroom resources (rulers, maps, protractors, graphing calculators, etc.).

These projects can be viewed and freely downloaded at www.enviromath.com.
QELP Integrated, Interdisciplinary Courses

One of our main goals is to promote the creation and development of interdisciplinary courses in science and mathematics. For the last several years, Greg and Joe have taught a 10 credit, fully integrated course that combines introductory environmental science with college-level algebra ("liberal arts" algebra). Students love this course, and we love it too; it's a lot of fun to teach, and we think it's value added for our students.

To promote and encourage interdisciplinary teaching, we're posting data sets for all to use and abuse, and will be publishing a workbook containing fully developed exercises.

To promote and encourage interdisciplinary teaching, we can provide you with practical advice based on several years of team teaching at Seattle Central Community College.

QELP Workshop

We'd like to thank all workshop participants for the enthusiasm and energy you brought to the workshop. We hope you learned as much as we did, and had as much fun too! Please stay in touch and let us know of any new developments in your attempts to integrate math and environmental science.

Below are just some of the references that were mentioned at the workshop (more or less in chronological order).


  • Greg and Joe

    Our course website: 6 Billion and Counting

    Weekly topics in our course (approximate):


    Environmental Science
    (ENV 150)

    Liberal Arts Math
    (Mat 107)


    Physical Earth

    Units, Percents, and Displays of Data


    Biota and Ecology

    Linear Regression and Modeling


    Food and Soil

    Exponential Regression and Modeling


    Ecosystems and Biomes

    Basic Statistics


    Human Population

    Difference Equations (linear, exponential)

    Water Resources

    Difference Equations (affine, logistic)


    Water Quality

    Systems of Difference Equations


    Solid waste and Recycling

    More Basic Statistics



    Normal Distributions


    Earthquakes and Hazards

    Power Law Regression and Fractal Distributions

    Bibliography of Introductory Environmental Mathematics Texts (snide remarks by Joe)

    Adler FR (1997), Modeling the Dynamics of Life: Calculus and Probability for Life Scientists; Brooks Cole, 784 pp. Aimed at biology majors with calc backgrounds.

    Alstad D (2001), Basic Populus Models of Ecology; Prentice Hall, 144 pp. Problems and applications using the Univ. of Minnesota's Populus software.

    Bennett JO, Briggs WL and Morrow CA (1996) Quantitative Reasoning: Mathematics for Citizens in the 21st Century; Addison Wesley, 700 pp. Get the preliminary edition! Superior to the published one. Emphasizes practical numeracy. Many environmental examples and problems.

    Berk KN and Carey P (2000), Data Analysis with Microsoft Excel; Duxbury, 588 pp. Lots of data sets on the attached CD but not many environmental examples.

    DeMarois P, McGowen M and Whitkanack D (2001), Applying Algebraic Thinking to Data: Concepts and Processes for the Intermediate Algebra Student; Addison Wesley Longman, 645 pp. Emphasis on concepts and traditional math. TI friendly.

    Dretzke BJ (2001), Statistics with Microsoft Excel; Prentice Hall, 257 pp. Nice introductory workbook. No environmental examples, though.

    Evans LT (1998), Feeding the 10 Billion: Plants and Population Growth; Cambridge Univ Press, 264 pp. Lots of analysis of agricultural and population information.

    Gagliardi R (1977), The Mathematics of the Energy Crisis; Intergalactic Publ. Co. Haven't seen this. For secondary students, many practical problems.

    Hadlock CR (1998), Mathematical Modeling in the Environment; MAA, 302 pp. An extended project approach, with modeling software on floppy diskette.

    Hamilton LC (1992), Regression with Graphics: A Second Course in Applied Statistics; Duxbury, 364 pp. Many extended data sets and examples from environmental science. Lucid text.

    Harte J (1988), Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmetal Problem Solving; University Science Books, 283pp. The classic.

    Hastings A (1997), Population Biology: Concepts and Models; Springer, 220 pp. A nice introductory text.

    Jackson HL (1971), Mathematics of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine; WH Green Inc. Haven't seen this. Apparently contains much introductory material.

    Kenschaft PC (2002), Mathematics for Human Survival; Whittier Publications, 346 pp. Targeted at liberal arts students.

    Kirkup L (2001), Data Analysis with Excel: An Introduction for Physical Scientists; Cambridge Univ Press. Haven't seen it but I'm curious.

    Mooney D and Swift R (1999), A Course in Mathematical Modeling; MAA, 431 pp. The next level up from Starfield (post-calculus). A variety of software is emphasized.

    Moore D.S. (1998), Statistics: Concepts and Controversies; Freeman, 526 pp. Many real world problems from all disciplines. The prose is great, very readable.

    Petruccelli JD, Nandram B and Chen M (1999), Applied Statistics for Engineers and Scientists; Prentice Hall, 944 pp. Emphasis on technology, with some emphasis on projects and labs. SAS macros and data sets in ASCII and SAS on floppy diskette.

    Pielou EC (1969), Introduction to Mathematical Ecology; Wiley Interscience.

    Samuels ML and Witmer JA (1999), Statistics for the Life Sciences; Prentice Hall, 682 pp. For biology majors. Many real examples. Larger data sets included on floppy diskette in ASCII and Minitab and via ftp.

    Schwartz RH (1998), Mathematics And Global Survival; Simon and Schuster, 241 pp. Replaced by Kenschaft. A good introductory text.

    Starfield AM, Smith KA and Bleloch AL (1990), How to Model It: Problem Solving for the Computer Age; McGraw Hill, 206 pp. Emphasizing the process of building models of real systems. Not many env. applications.

    Triola MF (2001), Elementary Statistics using Excel; Addison Wesley, 876 pp.  Including group projects at the end of each chapter and web-based projects. Environmental examples scattered throughout.

    Tukey JW (1977), Exploratory Data Analysis; Addison Wesley. A classic.

    Wheater CP and Cook PA (2000), Using Statistics to Understand the Environment; Routledge, 245 pp. Very well written introductory text. Only drawback is paucity of real examples.

    Zumoff N, Schaufele C and Latiolais MP (2000), Earth Studies: Applied Calculus, A Modeling Approach; Kendall Hunt, 106 pp. Unfortunately, light on real world examples and data.

  • Jan Ray
  • Quantitative Literacy
        National Council for Education and the Disciplines (NCED) QL page

        The book : Mathematics and Democracy : Why Quantitative Literacy Matters

        National  Numeracy Network   (NNN)

             Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Information at Dartmouth College

             The Math Center at Trinity College

             The Washington Center for the Improvement in Undergraduate Education.

        Bowdoin Quantitative Skills Program

        Carlton College Workshop on Geoscience and Mathematics

        Wellesley College QR site

        Miscellaneous stuff (CTYC Page)


  • Janet Anderson and Kathy-Winnett Murray

    GEMS courses at Hope College: http://www.hope.edu/academic/gened/gems/



Many thanks to Christian Sarason for these photos. Have you seen his Ocean Inquiry website?

Alki beach

Gaging Station #12145500 (see http://water.usgs.gov/realtime.html)

Upper Raging River -- measuring discharge



Federation Forest State Park


Thursday's Talks

  • Dan Robinson

    Fitchburg St. College chem/bio website: http://alice-marie.fsc.edu/. Follow links to Environmental Science and STELLA labs.

    High Performance Systems (info on STELLA): http://www.hps-inc.com/

    Textbooks: Dynamic Modeling, by Hannon and Ruth. Springer Verlag. http://www.springer.de/cgi/svcat/search_book.pl?series=3427

    Rob Cole has written an interesting paper on modeling using Stella (word document). Check out Mathematical Modeling

  • Greg Langkamp

    texts with difference equation material

    Discrete Dynamical Systems: Theory and Applications, by James T. Sandefur. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990.

    Functioning in the Real World, a Precalculus Experience. Gordon, Gordon, Fusaro, Siegel and Tucker. Addison Wesley, 1997.

    A Course in Mathematical Modeling, Mooney and Swift, MAA publishers, 1999. See http://www.maa.org/pubs/books/mml.html

  • Kathy-Winnett Murray and Janet Anderson

    GEMS courses at Hope College: http://www.hope.edu/academic/gened/gems/

    Ecobeaker: http://www.ecobeaker.com/

    Akçakaya, H.R., M. A. Burgman, and L. R. Ginzburg. 1999. Applied Population Ecology: Principles and Computer Exercises. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.

    (Christian's suggestion) Concepts in Biological Oceanography, P.A. Jumars. 1993. Oxford

  • Joe Hull

    Bibliography and Resources

    Bak, Per (1996), How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality; Copernicus (Springer-Verlag), New York, 212 pp.

    Barton, C. C. and LaPointe, P. R. (1994), Fractals in the Earth Sciences; Plenum, New York, 254 pp.

    Gaylord, R. J. and Nishidate, K. (1996), Modelling Nature: Cellular Automata Simulations with Mathematica; Telos, New York, 260pp. the Mathematica (.ma) files are at http://www.telospub.com/

    Goltz, C. (1997), Fractal and Chaotic Properties of Earthquakes; Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 178 pp.

    Mandelbrot, Benoit (1983), The Fractal Geometry of Nature (revised edition); W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 468 pp.

    Peak, D. and Frame, M. (1999), Chaos Under Control; W. H. Freeman, New York, 222 pp. see their related course website at http://www.math.union.edu/research/chaos/welcome.html

    Turcotte, Donald L. (1997), Fractals and Chaos in Geology and Geophysics (Second Edition); Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 398 pp.

    University of Washington, Department of Earth and Space Sciences,  Pacific Northwest Earthquake Information website: http://spike.geophys.washington.edu/SEIS/PNSN

    Weatherley, D., Mora, P. and Xia, M. (2001), Long-range automaton models of earthquakes: power-law accelerations, correlation evolution, and mode switching; paper online at http://www.quakes.uq.edu.au/~weatherley/LRA/paper/paper.html

    Yeats, R. S., Sieh, K. and Allen, C. R. (1997), The Geology of Earthquakes; Oxford University Press, New York, 568 pp.

    Yeats, R. S. (1998), Living With Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest; Oregon State Univ. Press, Corvallis, 309 pp.


  • Wrap-up

    a special thanks to Mimi Aregaye for providing the wonderful T-shirts for our visitors from out of town.


Pre-Workshop Information

******** Notice **********

As of March 28, the workshop is full. If you would like to be put on the "waiting list", please contact us as described below. Thank you for your interest in the QELP workshop.

The Quantitative Environmental Learning Project will be hosting a 4 day workshop at Seattle Central Community College in Seattle, Washington from June 17-20 (Monday through Thursday), 2002. The workshop will focus on curricula that integrate mathematics and environmental science at the introductory college level. The workshop will be composed of two days of in-house sessions and two days of field trips.

    A wide variety of in-house activities are planned, and plenty of time for free-form discussions and sharing will be included. We anticipate some formal presentations from the organizers, participants and guest speakers, focussing on strategies, materials and outcomes of interdisciplinary math and science education. We also anticipate a number of hands-on activities that you can take back to your classes, such as creating artificial landslides using a cellular automaton that models landslide recurrences, and quantifying an "urban health index" for a couple of city blocks adjacent to Seattle Central Community College.

    One of the field trips will visit both the Puget Sound shoreline and a Cascade foothills stream. In the morning, we will take advantage of a low tide to conduct biological censuses in the intertidal zone, and collect butter clam shells to take back to your classroom for biometric analysis. In the afternoon, we will measure stream transects across the Raging River and determine stream discharge from velocity and transect measurements, using state-of-the-art velocity meters and data collection units. We will also brainstorm about quantification of riparian ecology.

    The second field trip will visit Mt. Rainier and vicinity. In the morning, participants will survey different aged forests along the White River corridor, from 300 year old virgin timber to third generation stick forests. Attendees will study the biometrics of Douglas firs and brainstorm about quantification of forest ecology. In the afternoon, we'll examine the geology of Volcano Rainier and learn about hazards, probabilities and recurrence intervals of both eruptions and debris flows. See schedule below.



8am - 5pm



7am - 5pm



7am - 6pm



9am - 5 pm


overview of workshop, discussion of QELP and how to pronounce it,

our course at SCCC, etc.


Jan Ray & Len Vacher:  on quantitative and scientific literacy national initiatives

Janet Andersen & Kathy Winnet-Murray:
Developing interdisciplinary courses at Hope College



# 1

Puget Sound Beaches




clam biometrics



# 3

Douglas Fir



forest ecology

Presentations on Mathematical Modeling in Environemental Science

Dan Robinson:
Student projects using STELLA

Greg Langkamp:
Modeling with difference equations on the TI-83 and Excel.





Urban Health Index





results, discussion







# 2

Raging River

discharge, velocity,

transects, etc.



# 4

Mt. Rainier


lahars, mudflows,



Janet Andersen & Kathy Winnet-Murray:

matrix algebra and changes in tree species composition in a forest

Joe Hull:
Earthquake modelling and the bingobox exercise


wrap-up, conclusion

Dinner at Baccus on Capitol Hill


Dinner at Elysian Brewpub on Capitol Hill


    Much of the cost of this conference will be covered by the organizers, including housing at the Virginia Mason Inn on Capitol Hill near SCCC. A generous stipend will be provided to each attendee for participation.

    We encourage pairs of instructors, as well as individuals, to apply. Priority will be given to pairs of instructors in mathematics and environmental/earth science from the same institution. Funding is available for up to 24 participants total.

    If you are interested in attending this workshop, please download an application form by clicking on one of the links below (application available in Word or PDF), print the application form, fill it out and send it in.

Application in Word Format            Application in PDF Format

Snail mail the application form to:
Joe Hull
Division of Science and Mathematics
Seattle Central Community College
1701 Broadway
Seattle WA 98122

Or you can fax the application form to:
Attn.: Joe Hull

If you want more information, contact Greg or Joe

Greg Langkamp, mathematics (GLangkamp@sccd.ctc.edu; 206-587-3810)

Joe Hull, environmental science (jhull@sccd.ctc.edu; 206-587-4905)

Preliminary deadline for applications: 1 February 2002