HONR 268A Assignments

Due Dates

Due Date
HW #1
Sep. 22
PDF Format
Paper #1
Oct. 6
Paper Ideas
Paper #2
Oct. 27
Paper Ideas
Paper #3
Nov. 15
Paper Ideas
HW #2
Dec. 13
PDF Format


Numerical Calculations:
  • For approximate calculations, you do not need to report all digits that the calculator shows! Be guided by how well you know the inputs to a calculation. For instance, if a car gets about 26 miles per gallon of gas based on how it is driven, reporting extra digits (e.g. 26.2947201) is meaningless and too precise.
  • Most importantly, show intermediate steps in any computational problems to indicate that you know what is going on. If you get a problem wrong, this provides an opportunity for partial credit.


  • For your Mini-Research papers, pick a relatively focused topic of interest, preferably related to the Task Force that you have joined. Examples of possible topics are posted on the Task Force webpage. Research the topic by finding multiple sources that discuss your topic (magazine articles, newspaper articles, web postings, etc.). Try to fully understand your topic and summarize it in your paper, citing your sources as appropriate. Papers should be from two to three double-spaced typed pages. If you have questions about the appropriateness of a particular topic, please feel free to ask me.

    Group Presentation

    Your group presentations should be a rough outline of what the chapter that you will contribute to the final class project will contain. The presentation should take about 20-25 minutes with 5-10 minutes to answer questions from the class. Your goal as a group is to cover your topic as clearly and completely as possible, both in this presentation and later in your written chapter. Be honest about the advantages and disadvantages of the different energy sources, technologies, and policies. Please try to divide up the work evenly so that each contributer presents about 1/3 of the material. Ideally, presentations should be in Power Point Format, but you can also use transparancies if necessary. After your presentations, I'll get copies of your Power Point files to post to the class website. Bring your own laptop, or one of those USB keys that we can plug into my Mac. Your own laptop is probably the best solution as fonts sometimes get messed up when transferring files between PCs and Macs. I will bring a projector.

    Your goal as an audience is to ask key questions that should be answered in the final writeup. You should also try to gain a basic understanding of what material will covered be in each chapter. As a class, your main goal is to decide the proper directions that the country should take, both in the near and long term. Each Task Force presentation should make recommendations for the future. As a class, you will need to synthesize and combine these recommendations into a coherent policy that you will describe in the last two chapters of the final written project.

    Final Project

    The final class project will be a large collaborative effort whose purpose is to chart US energy policy over the next 50 years. I envision nine chapters as follows: Since there are 18 of you, that means two people per chapter. So each task force needs to volunteer one person to help synthesize everything (i.e. write the first and last chapters). I'll let you work this out amongst yourselves. Chapters should be about 20 pages double-spaced (some may need to be shorter or longer - talk to me). Again try to divide the work up reasonable evenly, and try to write at a level that can be understood by non-experts (that means define any terms that you didn't know before taking this class). The introduction should summarize the problems that we face: pollution, global warming, nuclear waste, fossil fuel depletion, population growth, political issues etc. and highlight some possible solutions. The next four chapters should contain historical summaries of each energy source as well as estimates of global resources, costs, possibilities for future development, etc. The transportation and policy chapters should also contain historical summaries of what has been tried in the US and abroad, current policies, as well as possible future directions (policy should also cover conservation). In the final two chapters, your goal is to make the hard calls - should we pursue one energy source at the expense of another? Should we let the market make all of the decisions? How large a role should the government play in guiding energy policy in the US? Should we use tax money for these purposes and if so, how much?

    It is up to you as a class to decide whether to advocate modest or radical changes. We will dedicate some class time to debating these issues and coming to conclusions. It should be fun!


    Sample Question

    Nuclear Energy Study Guide

    Return to HONR268A Home Page