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Chemicals, The Environment, and You

Secondary

Description

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.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Designing and conducting an investigation
  • Using appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze,and interpret data
  • Developing descriptions, explanations, predictions and models using evidence
  • Thinking critically and logically to make relationships between evidence and explanations
  • Communicating scientific procedures and explanations
  • Using mathematics in scientific inquiry
  • Working cooperatively with group members to carry out a plan
  • Proposing solutions for a problem being investigated
  • Listening critically to other's ideas/thoughts and points of view
  • Reading and viewing of different text

Strengths

  • Links are relevant to the topic and appropriate for both teacher and students
  • Interactive activities are fun and interesting
  • Resource is easy to use and understand
  • Prepared student handouts are well organized
  • Has opportunities for experiential learning
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue, and incidential peer teaching
  • Gives students a chance to practice real science and obtain results that are relevant to their lives
  • Resource is thorough and provides lots of background information for teachers
  • Has an extensive list of additional teacher resources on the web
  • Students and teachers can choose either a print version or the website for each lesson 
  • Investigations have a list of safety guidelines
  • Authentic case studies are interesting, relevant and encourage both empathy and awareness

Weaknesses

  • Assessment tools must be developed by the teacher
  • Videos links need fixing in the student activities
  • Resource has no action plan
  • No accommodations are suggested for struggling students
  • Students need more opportunities to clarify and express values
  • No out of doors experience

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science):Investigating Properties of Matter
        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14: Investigating Properties of Matter
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24:Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
        • Science 24:Disease Defence and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
        • Science 30: Living Systems Respond to Their Environment
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 10
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      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy choices influence, and are influenced by, our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
        • Physical and Health Education 10
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic chemistry and its applications have significant implications for human health, society, and the environment
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizens 11: Scientific knowledge can be used to develop procedures, techniques, and technologies that have implications for places of employment
        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Chemistry in Action
    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology: Protection and Control
    • Grade 12
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Area of Inquiry: Health and Biotechnology
        • Global Issues: Citizenship and Sustainability
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Learning and Living Sustainably (STSE)
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies: The Nature of Science
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 2202:: Organic Chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • General Science 3200 : Chemical Reactions
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biological Diversity
        • Environmental Chemistry
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science):Investigating Properties of Matter
        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14: Investigating Properties of Matter
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4:Disease Defense and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10:Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic Chemistry
  • Nunavut
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    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Investigating Properties of Matter
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science):Investigating Properties of Matter
        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24:Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
        • Science 24:Disease Defence and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
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      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy Active Living Education: Healthy Living
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Applied):Chemistry: Exploring Matter
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy Active Living Education: Healthy Living
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
        • Science (Applied)::Chemistry: Chemical Reactions and Their Practical Applications
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Gases and Atmospheric Chemistry
        • Quantities in Chemical Reactions
        • Solutions and Solubility
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Human Health and the Environment
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Reducing and Managing Waste
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Health and the Environment
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Health Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Health for Life (College Prep.) Determinants of Health
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy Active Living Education: Healthy Living
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12 (Univ. Prep.): Homeostasis
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy Active Living Education: Healthy Living
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Univ./College Prep.) Science and Public Health Issues
        • Science (Workplace Preparation): Chemicals in Consumer Products
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Health Care (College Prep.) : Health Care,The Environment and Society
        • Health Care (Univ./College Prep.) Health Care, the Environment, and Society
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 9
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Decisions and Perspectives
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science 701A: Decisions and Perspectives
        • Science 421A: Decisions and Perspectives
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 521A: Organic Chemistry
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology:The Living World
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Living World
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Material World
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Technological World
        • Science & Technology:The Living World
        • Science and the Environment: The Living World
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy choices influence, and are influenced by, our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
        • Physical and Health Education 10
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic chemistry and its applications have significant implications for human health, society, and the environment
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizens 11: Scientific knowledge can be used to develop procedures, techniques, and technologies that have implications for places of employment
        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves

Themes Addressed

  • Human Health & Environment (2)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
    • Health Promotion
  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
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:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
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.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

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

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

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.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

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. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the 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.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are asked to gather information in their investigations and readings to draw their own conclusions. They are not steered toward a certain answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

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

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

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.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
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 Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
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.