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«Phosphate: A Florida Resource Mined for Math A middle school grade level unit created by Donna Ellis Lake Alfred Middle School Polk County, FL 2012, ...»

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DAP (diammonium phosphate): A fertilizer combining two of the three primary plant nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. Used on almost every kind of crop grown in the U.S. It has 18% nitrogen and 46% P2O5.

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Down trend: A decreasing tendency shown in data analyses, often illustrated by graphs.

Dragline: A large machine used in excavation. In the Florida phosphate industry, draglines with large bucket capacities are used to remove the overburden and excavate the phosphate matrix.

Equation: A mathematical sentence stating that the two expressions have the same value.

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Grid: A network of evenly spaced, parallel, horizontal and vertical lines.

Horizontal axis: The x-axis on a graph. This is the line that goes right to left.

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Investment: In business, the purchase by the producer of a product, such as durable equipment, buildings or inventory, in the hope of improving future business.

Labels: In graphing, the title, the name given to axes, or the scale.

Man-hour: The amount of work that can be done by one person in one hour.

MAP (monoammonium phosphate): A fertilizer often used in the blending of dry agricultural fertilizers. It supplies soil with the elements nitrogen and phosphorus in a form which is usable by plants. It has 11% nitrogen and 53% P2O5.

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Overburden: The soil or rock that covers a mineral source; dirt miners dig through in order to reach the matrix below. In Florida this layer is used for reclamation.

P2O5: Phosphorus pentoxide. Standard industry term for the content of available phosphorus in phosphoric acid. Normal wet phosphoric acid (produced by reacting phosphate rock with sulfuric acid) has 32% available P2O5.

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Phosphate rock: A commercial term for rock containing phosphate materials that have a high enough grade and composition to permit their use, before or after beneficiation, in manufacturing commercial phosphate products.

Protractor: A circular or semicircular tool used for measuring angles; the measurement units are degrees.

Quarter-inch square: A square that is ¼ inch long on each side.

Range: The difference between the greatest data value and the least data value.

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Square mile: A measure of area delineated by a square measuring one mile on each side;

area equal to 639.99 acres, or 258.99 hectares.

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Superphosphoric acid: An acid produced by concentrating 54% phosphoric acid to about 70% phosphoric acid.

TSP (triple superphosphate): Triple superphosphate is a fertilizer produced by the action of concentrated phosphoric acid on ground phosphate rock. The phosphorus content of triple superphosphate (44-52% P2O5) is therefore greater than that of single superphosphate (16-22% P2O5). Triple superphosphate was the most common phosphate fertilizer in the USA until the 1960s, when ammonium phosphates became more popular. It is produced in granular and nongranular form and is used both in fertilizer blends (with potassium and nitrogen fertilizers) and by itself.

Up trend: A prolonged period of time when data shows an increase.

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Phosphate cannot be created by man and can only be economically obtained from the earth. In 1998, the Florida Phosphate Council reported many statistics about the phosphate industry. You will find the results of this report throughout this unit.

Students will practice their reading comprehension skills and their ability to interpret the data, then apply it to the class discussion and written questions about the phosphate industry.

Students should be able to multiply and divide multi-digit integers.


Students will read the 1998 Florida Phosphate Fact Sheet and work in small groups to answer questions and solve math problems to complete a crossword puzzle. As a class they will discuss the positives and negatives of phosphate mining in Florida.

Estimated Time:

90 minutes

Grade Level:



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The students will…

1. Read the 1998 Florida Phosphate Fact Sheet.

2. Use the Fact Sheet to answer questions.

3. Work in cooperative groups to solve math problems.

4. Complete a crossword puzzle with the answers to the questions.

5. Discuss the positives and negatives of phosphate mining in Florida.

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1998 Florida Phosphate Fact Sheet Crossword puzzle KWL Chart Paper Pencils


1. Divide the class into groups of students who will work cooperatively together to read and answer questions and solve math problems together.

2. Give each group a KWL Chart.

3. Have students brainstorm about what they know about phosphate within their groups.

4. Call on a member of each group to place an answer in the “Know” section on the board.

Continue until each group has given an answer.

5. Follow the same step for the “What Do You Want to Know” section. All responses in this section must be in the form of a question. Introduce words to know.

6. Discuss thoughts and ideas behind responses as they are given for the K and W sections of the chart. Do not correct answers at this time. Record responses as given.

7. Give each student a copy of the Fact Sheet.

8. Allow time for students to read and discuss the Fact Sheets, finding some of the answers to their questions that they wanted to find out. Let them fill in the Learned section of the KWL chart themselves.

9. Take a few minutes and discuss some of the information the students have found out about phosphate mining. Ask if there are any positive or negative impacts from mining. Call on one person from each group to report something that they wrote down in their Learned column of the KWL chart.

10. Give each group the Crossword Puzzle.

11. Allow time for the students to work together in their groups to solve problems and to answer questions for the crossword puzzle.

Analysis/Conclusion Students will complete the questions and the crossword puzzle.

Teacher Notes:

Make copies of the 1998 Florida Phosphate Fact Sheet (1 per student) Make copies of the crossword puzzle (one copy per group) Make copies of KWL Chart (one copy per group) If your budget does not allow you to purchase a class set of protractors and angle rulers, copy the templates included with this unit onto transparency film and have the students cut them out.

The two pieces of the angle ruler can be connected with a brad.

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What do I know about What do I want to know about What have I learned about ______________________? _______________________? _____________________?

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What’s so important about Phosphate, Anyway?

Phosphorus, the nutrient that comes from phosphate, is essential for life. That means no living thing can survive without it! Phosphorus cannot be created in a laboratory. Phosphate rock, mined from the earth, is the only economic source for this nutrient. Phosphate rock from Florida helps to fertilize crops at home and around the world.

Fortunately, our state has great supplies of this vital mineral, and Polk County is at the heart of the phosphate industry in Florida, providing 75% of the nation’s phosphate and about 25% of the world supply in 1998. That year, 34 million metric tons of phosphate rock were mined from 5,839 acres of Florida land and almost all—90%—of the phosphate mined in Florida was used to make fertilizer. About half of the remaining 10% was used in animal feed supplements, and the rest was used in a variety of products such as soft drinks, toothpaste, vitamins, light bulbs, and other consumer products. Today (2009) all Florida phosphate is used to make fertilizer and animal feed supplements.

The phosphate industry employed 8,061 people in Florida in 1998, who worked a total of 17,017,568 man-hours. The wages these people earned contributed a lot to our state. The total industry payroll that year was $456 million, including fringe benefits. The industry also pays what is called a “severance tax” to the state on every ton of phosphate rock it mines; in 1998, it paid $60,637,980 in severance taxes. That year, the Florida phosphate industry owned or had the mineral rights to 495,474 acres of land. Property taxes amounting to over $36 million were paid in 1998 on that land. Another $28 million was collected from sales taxes and other kinds of taxes and fees.

The Florida phosphate industry has to pay for many services it receives from others, such as electricity, telephone service, insurance, and advertising. In 1998, it paid $137,950,602 for electricity and $3,636,012 for telephone service. That year, other services cost the industry $148,428,487.

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So How Is Phosphate Mined?

In the early days (1888 to about 1910), the land was mostly mined by pick-and-shovel methods, but since then most of the work has been done with steam shovels, and later, draglines.

A dragline is a giant crane (about six stories high!) with a huge bucket on the end. When a dragline mines for phosphate, it actually scoops up a mixture called the matrix, composed of roughly equal parts of phosphate rock, sand, and clay. The dragline digs up the phosphate and dumps it into a pit. There, guns spray the matrix with high-pressure water to create a slurry (a soupy mixture) containing 35-40% solids. This slurry is transported through pipes to the beneficiation plant, where the phosphate rock it is separated from the sand and clay mix.

What Happens Next to the Phosphate Rock?

In the beneficiation plant, several things happen to the slurry. First comes the washer, where water and gravity are used to break up large clumps of matrix. Next, a trommel screen captures the largest-sized phosphate while the smaller, sand-sized rock filters through. These tiny phosphate particles are sent to devices called hydrocy-clones that separate them from the phosphatic clay, or slime, in the mixture.

But there is still sand with the tiny phosphate particles, so they go through one last process, called flotation. Water, chemicals, and air bubbles are used to separate them from the grains of sand in the mixture.

In the end, the phosphate from the flotation process is transported, with the larger pebble product from the washing process, to the chemical processing plant where it is reacted with sulfuric acid to make phosphoric acid. The phosphoric acid is used to make fertilizers and other products.

What About Water Usage and Pollution?

There is no doubt that the phosphate industry uses a lot of water. In 1998, it pumped 53,660,900 gallons a day. This amounted to 576 gallons of water for every ton of rock mined.

However, about 95.4% of the water needed for phosphate mining was reused that year, and in the manufacturing processes, 92.1% of the water was captured and recycled.

The phosphate industry invested more than $72 million in 1998 for pollution control equipment and water conservation systems. Other environmental control costs that year were nearly $177 million. These included such things as off-site waste disposal and recycling costs.

What Is Made from Florida Phosphate?

In Florida, ammoniated phosphate fertilizer is the primary product manufactured.

Ammonia provides nitrogen and is added in varying amounts to create different types of fertilizer. Diammonium phosphate, or DAP, is the most commonly produced fertilizer product (10,769,666 tons in 1998). Next is monoammonium phosphate fertilizer, or MAP, of which

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2,340,330 tons were produced that year. MAP and DAP are similar, but MAP has a lower concentration of nitrogen.

There were 1,274,937 tons of another fertilizer product, triple superphosphate (TSP), manufactured in 1998. TSP is made by reacting phosphate rock primarily with phosphoric acid rather than sulfuric acid, resulting in a more concentrated product.

Animal feed supplements in the amount of 1,005,919 tons were manufactured by the phosphate industry in 1998. These animal feed phosphates are defluorinated (have the fluorine removed) because fluorine can cause adverse health effects to animals that eat it.

Other finished products in 1998 were: superphosphoric acid (662,081 tons), phosphoric acid (158,522 tons), and sulfuric acid (250,050 tons).

How Do the Phosphate Industry’s Products Get to Market?

Phosphate rock and the products made from it are transported by truck or rail to ports where they are shipped for export overseas or across the Gulf of Mexico for domestic distribution by various means. In 1998, the phosphate industry had transportation costs of $37,110,016 (truck) and $167,341,998 (rail). The Port of Tampa is the state’s largest, and 17,213,492 tons of phosphate and phosphate-related products were shipped through it in 1998.

Fertilizer is Florida’s leading export commodity, with a value of $1.809 billion in 1998.

What Happens to Land After a Phosphate Mine Is Closed?

As mentioned, phosphate cannot be created by man and must be mined from the earth.

Mining, however, destroys surface vegetation and wildlife habitat and at least temporarily makes the land unattractive and not useable for other purposes. In July 1975, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring phosphate companies to reclaim, or restore to a useful state, all the land they mine once they are finished with it. The land must be reshaped to repair its post-mining “moonscape” appearance, and appropriate native plants and animals are reintroduced to the land by biological scientists. Any wetlands that were previously on the site must be restored or recreated as best as possible.

There is no question about the necessity for mining, but this requires society to set rules and decide on acceptable tradeoffs for this activity.

Source: Statistics come from 1998 Florida Phosphate Facts, published Spring 1999 by the Florida Phosphate Council.

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Lesson 2: Classifying and Naming Angles Author: Donna Ellis


This is an introductory lesson on the use of a protractor and angle ruler to measure angles.

Professionals such as mining surveyors, aviators, and architects require such measurement.

The concept of an angle is one of the most important concepts in geometry. The concepts of equality, sums, and differences of angles are important and used throughout geometry, and the science of trigonometry is based on the measurement of angles.

When measuring an angle, a circle is most commonly divided into 360 equal degrees. Degrees can be further divided into 60 minutes and those minutes can be further divided into 60 seconds.

An angle ruler or protractor is used to measure the size of an angle.

Every location on the earth’s surface is identified with a latitude and longitude measured in degrees. Latitude is expressed in 0 at the Equator to 90° N at the North Pole and 90° S at the South Pole. Longitude is the angular distance east or west of the prime meridian (or Greenwich Meridian) at 0° to 180°.

People who navigate an airplane or ship would use latitude and longitude coordinates to find their destination. Coordinates would also be used to mark the location of natural resources, such as phosphate, that are going to be mined and later be processed for fertilizer.

Students should be able to identify parallel, intersecting and perpendicular lines and know the difference between obtuse, acute and right angles.


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