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This inquiry-based resource focuses on the science of toxicology and introduces students to the methods scientists use to determine how chemicals can both help and harm human health. Active learning is promoted and student interest stimulated through a web-based approach that presents students with mini-documentaries, labs, data tables, and interactive activities. The activities are based on real-life occurrences that students can relate to.
Students are introduced to chemicals and toxicology. They conduct an investigation into the effects of chemicals on seed germination, draw and analyze a dose-response curve, examine how individual response to chemicals can vary, review case studies on chemical exposure, and use their knowledge of how chemicals can affect human health, to solve a problem depicted in a fictional scenario.
Lessons can be taught either in sequence or used individually to support specific topics. A brief summary of each lesson follows.
Lesson One- Chemicals, Chemicals Everywhere
Students are asked to divide substances into categories: made of chemicals/not made of chemicals, synthetic/naturally occurring, and toxic/non-toxic. After learning that all substances are made of chemicals, students discuss how their concept of what a chemical is may differ from a scientific definition. Students observe a 'mystery chemical" and determine what precautions should be used in handling it. Finally students read 5 case studies describing the effects of exposure to chemicals and answer reflection questions in groups.
Lesson Two- The Dose Makes The Poison
Students observe beakers of water that contain different amounts of a "mystery chemical". They discuss how each concentration might affect them if the chemical was beneficial or harmful to their bodies. Then students setup investigations to test the effects of different doses of chemicals on seed germination and collect data for three days.
Lesson Three- Dose -Response Relationships
Students graph their data to develop a dose-response curve for the mystery chemical. They then compare their graphs with those prepared for different chemicals by other groups. The dose-response curves are analyzed to determine threshold and potency.
Lesson Four- Individual Responses Can be Different
Students read a case study about an overdose of acetaminophen and apply what they have learned to answer questions and solve math problems involving dose and individual susceptibility. They then conduct an investigation into their own susceptibility to caffeine and compare individual responses.
Lesson Five-What is the Risk?
Students apply their knowledge of the concepts of toxicology to a reading and discussion of the widespread mercury poisoning that occurred in Minamata, Japan during the 1950's. They then learn to access the risk of people to specific chemical hazards and make decisions on how to manage the risk in their own lives.
Lesson Six- Environmental Hazards
Students solve a problem in a fictional scenario involving exposure to environmental hazards. In the scenario, students participate in a field trip to a natural history museum and upon returning to the school complain of nausea and headaches. Students are asked to consider the potential chemical exposure experience, who was exposed, how they were exposed, and how much exposure they experienced. Using fact sheets, students solve the problem and recommend ways that participants could have minimized or eliminated risks.
The module uses the 5E Instructional Model ("Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate") and teachers can chose a print or website version for each lesson. There are interactive student activities as well for most lessons.
Detailed lesson plans include objectives, background information, notes, web-based activities, black line masters, and material lists.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
A wealth of background info and relevant case studies examine a number of issues associated with environmental hazards and both the beneficial and harmful effects of everyday chemicals. There is little information or promotion of environmentally-friendly materials and natural medicines however.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Satisfactory|
The various chemicals that have become part of our everyday lives can offer both help and potential harm to society and the environment. The economic benefits of these must be tempered with appropriate risk assessment and management plans to avoid exposing people to potential sickness and death.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The focus is on inquiry. Science-based testing allows students to discover the physiological effects of dosage errors and exposure to humans, as well as examining the detrimental effect chemicals have on growing seeds. The complexity of this issue is respected.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Poor/Not considered|
Poor- there is no authentic action experience in which students can make positive changes in their communities
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
There needs to be more opportunities for students to clarify their own values and roles.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Good|
Strong and relevant case studies build empathy for those whose exposure to deadly chemicals has led to serious illness or death.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Poor/Not considered|
Poor- these is no out-of-doors experience provided
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The case study on acetaminophen overdose brings relevance to the lives of students as it is such a common medicine for children. The investigation on caffeine drinks and the carbon monoxide emissions on a school bus also have local focus.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Good|
Scientific investigations and case studies allow students to see the effects of past practices and highlight the current situations.Tthe future would be seen as positive if students use the result of this resource to better manage exposure risk.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
Students are asked to gather information in their investigations and readings to draw their own conclusions. They are not steered toward a certain answer.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
Although primarily a science resource, it provides learning opportunities in health, mathematics, social studies and language arts.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Activities teach to both the cognitive and affective domains. No accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties, although the interactive activities option should prove helpful.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
|Experiential Learning||Very Good|
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
Some "embedded" assessment suggestions are given, but more tools are necessary to capture information about student learning and progress. Reflection questions are given, but no rubrics or checklists are given in support.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Very Good|
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Satisfactory|
Although the resource is quite specific with regards to program content and the medium with which students work, there are opportunities in extension activities to go deeper into chosen issues, Students also have some choice in the investigations with regards to the type of chemical they wish to test.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|