Flush it! Throw it! Out of sight, out of mind!

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei, MLS

Time: 50 minutes
Print Overhead 1a and 1b.
Prepare any other overheads deemed necessary.
Materials: Overhead 1


This Engage lesson strengthens the connection between industry and human health. Throughout this lesson, the Industrial Revolution will be studied focusing on the inequity of services and rights that illustrated the American economy at this time.

Students will be able to:
1. Describe disposal procedures by reviewing water and solid waste disposal cycles and happens when one step is omitted.

National Council for History in the Schools
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2F: Utilize visual and mathematical data presented in charts, tables, pie and bar graphs, flow charts, Venn diagrams, and other graphic organizers.
  • Standard 3J: Hypothesize the influence of the past.
  • Standard 5A: Identify issues and problems in the past.

United States History Standards

  • Era 6 Standard 1: How the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed the American people.

Teacher Background
The Industrial Revolution was a major shift of technological, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions in the late 18th and early 19th century that began in Britain and spread throughout the world. During that time, an economy based on manual labor was replaced by one dominated by industry and the manufacture of machinery. It began with the mechanization of the textile industries, the development of iron-making techniques and the increased use of refined coal. Trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads and railways. The introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal) and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity. The development of all-metal machine tools in the first two decades of the 19th century facilitated the manufacture of more production machines for manufacturing in other industries.

Resource Websites
Industrial Revolution: http://www.ecology.com/archived-links/industrial-revolution/index.html
Industrial Revolution on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution
Procedures for chemical waste disposal: http://www.ehs.cornell.edu/lrs/CHP/07.waste.disposal.htm
The European Enlightenment Industrial Revolution: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/INDUSTRY.HTM
Waste Disposal: http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/wastedisposal.htm 
Environmental Health & Waste Disposal Procedures:
EPA on Waste Disposal: http://www.epa.gov/msw/disposal.htm

History of Garbage for Kids: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/saving/recycling/solidwaste/primer.html#AllKindsOfGarbage
flush it


1. Use the following question to reflect on the previous lesson (have students write the question in their notes):

With increased production comes increased industrial waste, how does that alter the landscape and where does it go?
All industries and homes have waste byproducts that need to be dealt with. Pose supportive questions to students:

  • What happens to your waste after you flush the toilet?
  • What happens to the waste that goes into garbage bins?

2. Possible student answers:

  • sewers/sewage systems
  • landfills

3. New Questions:

  • What exactly are those things?
  • How do they work?

4. Group students in three and have them devise a description of the two words. In the description they must give the following information:

a. Definition from dictionary
b. Definition in their own words
c. How do they work?
d. What goes into them?
e. Where are they located?
f. In your opinion, do they stop water and soil from being polluted?
g. In your opinion, are they necessary? Why?

5. Review the cycles of waste disposal for trash and water. Show students Overhead 1a that illustrates the water waste cycles. Ask them if you were to take out one step in the safety process would you compromise your environment? How about your health?

6. Repeat for Overhead 1b.

7. Have students write the following scenarios in their notes:

  • Water cycle: Take out the following and you have the Industrial Revolution:
    • “far away location for dumping” \
    • “filtering process that makes it safe for human consumption”
  • Garbage cycle: Take out the following and you have the Industrial Revolution:
    • “garbage collection”,
    • “far-away location”
    • ”recycling component”
    • “dry soil layers in a landfill”

8. Have students list these items in their notes. Next to each item ask them to write down the reason omission of this step in the waste cycles compromises human health.

Items for students’ notes
Reasons of importance
a. far away location for dumping sewer waste It increases the distance from smells and gases.
b. a water filtering process that makes water safe for human consumption It eliminates infected water that carries diseases.
c. city provided garbage collection It provides consistently clean streets, curbs, and alleys.
d. a far-away location for landfills It increase the distance from smells and gases.
e. a recycling component for trash It eliminates the amount of trash to throw away so helps to minimize landfill burden.
f. dry soil layers in a landfill It helps to prevent materials from getting wet avoiding it filtering into our soil and eventually our water supply. (aquifers)


9. Discuss answers and make any connections to terms they not understood (ex. aquifers).

10. Ponder this:

  • Household waste has been around since humans started settling. With the advent of Industry at the level it is now and heavy consumer consumption, the hazardous waste byproducts have over-burdened the landfill and sewer system. With the Industrial Revolution came chemical byproducts, hard metal by-products, and extensive burning of fossil fuels and wood to speed production.
    • What would the air and water quality been like if humans never settled?
    • What are the implications to our health and environmental health?
    • Would it be safe to say that the Industrial Revolution could be illustrated by pollution that affected health?

If necessary.

Embedded Assessment
Assess answers to questions and waste cycle observations in their notes.

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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