Leftovers, Do You Want Them?

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 50 minutes
photocopy Handout 1 (Meadowlands article) for each student
Materials: Handout 1 (see article “Meadowlands” below under Resources)


This apply lesson asks students to reach into the past to understand a current contaminant problem with water in the New Jersey area. It makes the connection to the Industrial Period thereby introducing it for further study. The lesson ends by setting up a list of ponder questions that will be addressed during the course of the quarter.

Students will be able to:
  • Associate industry to health by evaluating a reading of a primary document that addresses contamination of a water source in New Jersey.
National Council for History in the Schools
Historical Thinking Standards

  • 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 18th 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.

The period of time covered by the Industrial Revolution varies with different historians. Eric Hobsbawm held that it broke out n the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s while T.S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830.

Resource Websites
Handout 1
Meadowlands Article:

National Water Quality Assessment
Long Island-New Jersey Coastal Drainages http://nj.usgs.gov/nawqa/linj/fs.94012.html
New Jersey Community Water Watch http://www.waterwatchonline.org/nj/njww.asp?id2=7856

Industrial Revolution Resources
Background on Industrial Revolution (short tutorial): http://www.bergen.org/technology/indust.html
Industrial Revolution of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution
Open Directory Project on Industrial Revolution: http://dmoz.org/Society/History/By_Time_Period/Eighteenth_Century/Industrial_Revolution/
Internet Modern History Sourcebook on Industrial Revolution: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook14.html
Documentary Series: The Day the World Took Off http://www.dspace.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/270
Making the Modern World: http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/













1. On an overhead, write down the Ponder question from the previous day;

 Do you think pollution problems from the Industrial Age are still with us today?

2. Have the students review student answers from their mini-investigative task in the previous lesson. Remind them of the information they were supposed to glean from the task: 

    1. To identify how their example addresses a worker situation, a business situation, and/or a landscape situation. In other words is their example talking about working conditions, business conditions, and/or location (city, rural, community).

3.Make a list of their answers to the Ponder questions. Possible answers. Disease or illnesses in polluted water, soil, or air. This affects humans, animals, and plants. (Remind students: People consume animals and plants.)  Have students put final list in their notes.

4. Give each student a copy of Handout 1. Read the title out-loud and ask them to reflect on what the title seems to signify.

5. Title signifies: That due to the Industrial Revolution there needs to be some restoration in areas of heavy activity from that period.

6. Have students read the article quietly and answer the following questions in their notes.

    1. What is it that the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the CWA trigger?
    2. What did closure of landfills and enforcement of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission accomplish at Hackensack Meadowlands?
    3. What is the goal of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program?
    4. Who pays for restoration?
    5. How is the word healthy defined in this article? (Who or what needs to be healthy?)
    6. Look at the image with the caption that reads: “The bad news: these signs are still common in the Meadowlands.” What is the message?

7. This is just one example of how the Industrial Age is still with us today. In the following weeks, we will explore the implications of Industry on human health and community health. Investigated will be the reasons the time was so dangerous to human health. By exploring the work place, the philosophy of business, and the city landscape, a greater understanding of the Industrial Revolution in America will be reached.


8. At the start of these pollution lessons the question of “Can industry have adverse effects on the environment and health?” was posed. The answer of course is yes, as has been established. But this raises new questions:

    1. Who is more likely to be affected? How? Why?
    2. Were particular locations affected more than others?
    3. How was pollution and contamination regulated to minimize contamination?

9. Now, apply these questions to the American Industrial Revolution and the course of our investigations into this part of America’s past can begin.


Embedded Assessment

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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