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Lesson Ideas  Asphalt Facility

Visit an asphalt plant
Call a facility in your area (look in the yellow pages under Asphalt) and ask about the possibility of bringing your class for a tour. Most plants can adapt the tour for the age of your students.

Guest Speakers
Invite an engineer from your state Department of Transportation to speak to your class. You may not be able to visit a work site due to safety concerns, but a DOT official can talk with your class about how the agency determines where roads will go, what materials are used and other important factors to consider.

Transportation in the U.S.
Which came first, the vehicle or the road? A social studies unit on transportation can incorporate the interconnected history of roads and automobiles and trucks. Help students discover the vital role of the highway system in the U.S. economy.

Itty Bitty Fishies

Great for Science Classes
Show your students the "recipe" for how asphalt is made — a great addition to a unit on rocks or transportation. Use our recipe for Hot Mix Asphalt Candy. Point out the aggregate (oatmeal and nuts) and the asphalt binder (chocolate and peanut butter mixture). Explain how it must be poured out while still hot before it hardens. Note: For safety’s sake, an adult should handle the cooking and pouring of the hot ingredients.

Or, show your students how the asphalt industry controls air pollution. This lesson plan gives instructions on building a prototype of a wet scrubber like the ones used in asphalt plants. (There’s also an activity that demonstrates how to build an electrostatic precipitator.)

Math in Asphalt Production?
Integrate math into your study of roads and transportation. Give students the task of designing a new road in your town. How long will it be? How wide should it be? How many tons of asphalt will they need to pave the road? Supply them this formula, given that one square yard of asphalt that is 6 inches deep weighs about 650 pounds:

(Length (in feet) x width (in feet) ÷ 9 sq. feet/sq. yd)
x 650 pounds/sq. yd = total pounds

There are 5,280 feet in a mile. There are 2,000 pounds in a ton.
A two-lane road can be anywhere from 24 feet to 40 feet wide.
How much does it cost? Assume asphalt costs about $30 per ton.

Students will be exposed to practical applications of math and gain practice in converting inches to feet, feet to miles and pounds to tons.

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