11 th Grade - Balancing Science & Society

The eleventh grade units focus on themes in American history from 1860 on as organizing topics around which chemistry and language arts integrate and focus on an environmental health issue associated with the topic.

Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health

Connection to Health
We are exposed daily to a host of chemicals that might be considered injurious to our health. These chemicals are in our classrooms, at our work, in our homes and in the environment at large. Each year we add more chemicals to the 70, 000 thought to be in common use. Many of these chemicals represent advances in technology. Many have changed our lives significantly. Unfortunately, sometimes these chemicals also have a negative impact if used incorrectly or disposed of improperly.

In this unit students develop an understanding of basic environmental toxicology while addressing basic chemical and physical properties of substances. As students gain an understanding about basic environmental toxicology they are also introduced to the health impacts of industrialization from a historical perspective.

Connections to Disciplines
This unit addresses National standards concerning chemistry, American history, language arts, and mathematics.

Lessons in chemistry support students’ understanding of physical and chemical properties of substances, molecular structure, and toxicity, while they examine technological advances. The health consequences of the development and use of chemicals and industrialization are also explored.
In American history class students review the social, economic and health impacts that industry has had on American life. The Industrial Revolution and industrialization through the 20th century are discussed.
Work by Carl Sandburg and Upton Sinclair, as well as photographic documentation, and an introduction to the Muckrakers all provide a foundation for students in language arts. Students not only examine industrialization and its impact, but also to dip into poetic analysis, narrative writing. They examine and write editorials.
This unit provides opportunities to discuss basic algebra and the math associated with basic toxicology.

Fertilizers, Pesticides and Human Health

Connection to Health
The increase in knowledge in the field of chemistry has led to advances in more that just “heavy” industry. Chemicals are discovered and designed to assist in almost every field imaginable. This unit will focus on the impact chemistry has on human health via agricultural practices; including the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

The impact of pesticides and fertilizers on human health offers a window into basic chemistry - through soil chemistry and into pesticide toxicity. It also provides insight into one of the major factors behind the Chicano movement.

This unit highlights the importance of health in a social context. The Chicano movement and the health of migrant workers provide an engaging environmental health context to examine the relationship between health, basic chemistry, and migration.

Connections to Disciplines
This unit addresses National standards concerning chemistry, American history, language arts, and mathematics.

Through an exploration of the chemistry behind fertilizers and pesticides students determine the difference between inorganic and organic compounds, review physical properties, discuss the nitrogen cycle, explore toxicity, considering the concepts of concentration and solution (with specific reference to dilution is the solution to pollution).
Pesticides and their impact on health were pivotal in the Chicano movement. The Chicano migrant worker movement serves as a connection to the larger issue of migration as part of the American experience. Students explore numerous migrations from 1860 on gaining insight into the impact of migration on the development of America.
In language arts, stories of and poetry by migrant children connects the theme of migration to environmental health. Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” is the basis for exploration about migration during the Depression.
This unit provides opportunities to discuss basic algebra, proportion, and use of powers.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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