Cultures and Cycles Major Project - Understanding Arsenic Contamination Around the World

General Description of the Major Project
For the final project in Cultures and Cycles students will develop a persuasive public advisory. This is the culminating activity designed to bring together concepts from science, language arts, social studies, and mathematics classes over the past quarter. In the project, students will organize and deliver a presentation to an assigned community that is situated in an area where there is a significant amount of arsenic in the ground.

In the science class, students will research the geochemical processes that give rise to arsenic in the region’s groundwater. In the language arts class, students research the effects of arsenic contamination and formulate a persuasive advisory to the public warning them of the effects of arsenic in the ground water. In social studies, students will become aware of the health risks and resulting societal implications of arsenic contamination in drinking water. They will also become skilled at map usage and cultural geography which will aid students in locating arsenic deposits and help them become better attuned to the needs of specific communities. During the presentation in the Language Arts class, students must keep in mind the cultural background of their target audience and utilize scientific evidence, which will be presented in the form of statistics, charts, tables, etc, which will be created in the math class.

Introducing the project to your students:
We have a form letter that can be given to students, Major Project Introduction for Students
This letter may be modified for your classroom. We suggest giving the letter out at the end of the language arts lesson, The Dangers of Illiteracy. Review with the students what you will be doing as a class over the next few weeks to help them prepare to give their presentations. Explain to the students that they will choose the community that they will present to after the world geography lesson Who am I?

Which lessons are central to the Major Project?
The major project is designed to provide a forum for students to demonstrate what they have learned throughout the unit in the context of an environmental health or biomedical issue. There are some lessons that are more pertinent to the major project than others.
The chart below highlights lessons that we think are central to the major project either because they deal specifically with arsenic in drinking water or with useful skills associated with presenting to different populations. Other lessons may be necessary to support these lessons. For a review of the full unit go to: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/9th_grade/culture_cycles/index.html.

Science World Geography Language Arts Math
Students identify science questions about arsenic and health using a recent newspaper article.
Water-The Indispensable Resource
In this lesson students become aware of how precious water is and build an understanding of the impact it has on the development of societies.
The Dangers of Illiteracy
Students will gain an appreciation of literacy as they investigate a case study of a population in a region with arsenic contamination. At the end of this lesson students could be introduced to their project*.
Calculating Parts per Million: Do we have a problem here?
Students use unit analysis to calculate parts per million and, in a given scenario, determine whether the concentration of contaminants is sufficiently high to warrant health officials closing a lake.
Arsenic Globally
Identify how arsenic got into the water (both natural and human-derived reasons); what effect has it had on the people (breadth, depth, scope, etc), what is being done about it, and what are their recommendations for the removal of arsenic deposits.
Who am I?
Students explore the major countries that have been affected by arsenic contamination in order to gain an understanding of their physical and cultural traits. This background information will allow students to develop an understanding of how each society must deal with the issue of contaminated drinking water and its impact on their survival.
The Three Appeals
During this lesson students will look at various persuasive texts and identify the three appeals used.
What Do You Want to Know? - Country Statistics
Students collect data and create graphs that best represent specific types of data about a given country.
Why here?
Students examine the basis of hydrothermal systems using a Flash animation
Postcards from the Rim
Students analyze the impact of arsenic contamination on the water supply of the project countries and how the people deal with this problem based on their culture and physical habitat.
Essay Elements Review
Students review thesis statements, topic sentences, supporting details, organization, etc…
Students begin the writing process on the assigned topic and write a
Persuasive Editorial
on the following question: Was it a good decision or not, for UNICEF to dig tube wells in Bangladesh during the 1970’s?
Bar and Histograms
Students explore what types of data are best represented by bar graphs or by histograms.
Not just Gold
Students apply their understanding of hydrothermal systems that lead to lodes of gold to explain the location of arsenic.
Arsenic Contamination: Natural Disaster or Human Induced.
By studying the water supply in different regions students will discern whether the major cause of arsenic contamination is human caused or natural. Students will assume the role of a member of the World Health Organization whose primary concern is to ensure that people have a supply of clean water.
Tricks and Techniques for Speech Delivery
The lesson addresses overcoming fear of public speaking using the POAM method.
What Pie?
Constructing and interpreting pie charts, students better understand the type of data that is best represented by pie charts and determine if a pie chart is the appropriate form of display for a given set of data.
  Dirty Water: A Case Study
Students gain an appreciation for the value of having easy access to a supply of clean drinking water and explore the problem of arsenic contamination in ground water.
Evaluating Rhetoric
Students view two mock presentations and evaluate them.
  Water Mitigation
Students conclude their study of the impact that arsenic in water has on human health by participating in a case study on Bangladesh. They will play the role of scientists in order to participate in a panel discussion on how to resolve the problem of arsenic contamination.
Preparing to Speak
Students listen to a brief overview of speech preparation tips and work on their projects.
Final Project- The final presentation will be presented in the Language Arts class
Students create and deliver a persuasive public advisory to a group of people who live in an area which has significant levels of arsenic in the local bedrock. Their advisories must take into account the cultural and educational levels/needs of their given community.

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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