How many people have died for you to have the cell phone in your pocket? This may never have been something that you considered, but the answer would likely surprise you. Given the incredible value of minerals that are used to make electronics and other devices and the human rights statuses of different countries around the world, there are criminal operations that use these materials as leverage.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largest country in Central Africa, armed conflict is a daily norm. Multiple civil wars are being fought and powerful rebel organizations live outside the law. There is no rule of law. The civilians are intimidated, abused, starving and dying. 45,000 people die every month due to the conflict. Although the country is estimated to possess over 27 trillion dollars’ worth of mineral resources, the citizens cannot take advantage of them. The rebel groups use violence, slavery and child labor to control most of the minerals. They are able to smuggle the minerals through other countries and to sell them undetected. The proceeds then go directly to funding the ongoing suffering and violence. It is estimated that 60% of all mineral sales from DRC support the violence of the criminal regimes.
Students will use the skills of decimals and fractions to explore authentic global problems. Through this project students are immersed with problems that are not only practical for the math content, but are ripe for a collaboration with your social studies department!
In this 16 page document you will be given a mapping to the Content Standards, an outline for how to implement the project, handout resources for students to use, and an answer key. In all it is two extended assignments and a project --
-- In "Mineral Usage", students will use basic operations with decimals to investigate authentic mineral data to determine lifetime costs.
-- In "Cell Phone Materials", students are given the composition of a cell phone’s materials in fractions. Students use these add, subtract and multiply with these fractions to determine the weight of the material in a phone.
-- In “Importing Minerals”, students are give the fraction or decimal that the US is self sufficient or relies on imports and uses this information to determine the overall spending on these minerals.
-- In "Conflict Minerals", students look at the value of the four main conflict minerals of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the fraction of the world’s supply students determine the amount of revenue that funds criminal enterprises.
-- In "Conflict Minerals Take Action Infographic", students will use evidence from the mathematics work to build an infographic.
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• 21st Century Math Projects -- All the Projects
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• 21st Century 4th Grade –- the Entire Curriculum
• 21st Century 5th Grade –- the Entire Curriculum
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