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Tools for Reasoning I: Short Introduction

The Process Tool

The Matter and energy process tool embodies using three matter/energy principles?—matter conservation, energy conservation, and energy degradation. In particular, it helps students to conserve matter separately from energy and conserve energy with degradation:

  • The top row of the tool (wavy arrows) embodies conservation and degradation of energy: Students can use this part of the tool to describe how any process involving chemical and/or physical change transforms energy without changing the total amount of energy, but always releases waste heat.
  • The second row of the tool (straight arrows) embodies conservation of matter?.  Younger students can use this tool to identify solids, liquids, and gases as reactants and products.  More advanced students can use the tool more rigorously to balance mass of reactants and products and to trace atoms through processes?.
  • In the landscape-scale units, students are also expected to use matter (straight) arrows and energy (wavy) arrows to connect multiple processes in socio-ecological systems. This will help students to link the atomic-molecular processes and macroscopic processes with the landscape processes. 

A blank process tool diagram is included below for reference. To complete the process tool, place a picture of the process occurring in the middle box, and fill in the line for scale (e.g. cellular, organismal, etc.) and the lines with matter and energy inputs and outputs.

Introduction to Process Tool.doc67 KB