Powerful Explorations - Math Lessons

Mathematics provides support in understanding parts per million, an important topic for understanding toxicity in human health. Other topics addressed in the math strand are: Cartesian coordinates, the metric system of measurement, biomagnification, population density, statistics, and data analysis.

Standards addressed by this unit are available on the individual lessons. To reach a lesson, just click on its title. To see connecting lessons in science, social studies, and language arts return to the ‘Cultures and Cycles’ unit page.

Each big idea is addressed by a learning cycle. At the completion of each big idea’s learning cycle students should be able to answer the corresponding question. At the end of the unit, the students will be able to apply their new scientific understanding to the Major Project where they provide a public service message that is checked in advance by local public health officials for accuracy.


Lesson Title & Description
Students will:
Class period & week

Chernobyl 1 - Radiation Released
Students will use unit analysis to calculate parts per million represented by given ratios, and in a given scenario, determine whether the concentration of contaminants is sufficient high to warrant health officials closing a lake.

1. Apply unit analysis to convert between Curies (Ci) and Becquerels (Bq), which are units of radiation used to express the amount of radiation released.

2. Use half-life data of radioactive nuclide material to demonstrate the use of an exponential function, specifically calculating the amount of material remaining after a given period of time.

3. Covert from units of radiation curies or becquerels to units of mass to determine the scale of radioactive material release during the Chernobyl disaster.

Week 6

Chernobyl 2 - Air Currents
Students will review the process of unit analysis to convert between units of radioactivity and will examine the radiation released during the 10 days the fire at the power plant raged.

1. Construct a scale model to represent the geographic regions around Chernobyl that were affected by radioactive fallout.

2. Using data from the Chernobyl event to detail on their scale model which areas where most contaminated.

3. Model the effect of the winds on the distribution of radioactive materials over their scale representation.
Week 6


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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