by Sarah Kenyon
Edited By Stephanie Nardei
During this Apply lesson, student groups
will be assigned an area of the world to describe
how arsenic is affecting its population:
- Where is
it coming from?
- Who is it affecting?
- How are they affected?
- What are their symptoms?
it acute or chronic poisoning and why?
- What is being
done to remediate the problem?
- What is the student’s
opinion as to whether or not this will work?
Science Education Standards
directed questions, student groups will identify 5 internet
- Using these resources, students will identify relevant
information by highlighting those sections that address
the provided questions
- Student groups will present the answers to these
questions to the class
Students will identify the region they are investigating
on a class map.
CONTENT STANDARD F: Science in Personal and
ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that
affect humans. Those processes include maintenance
of the quality of the atmosphere, generation
of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal
and recycling of nutrients. Humans are changing
many of these basic processes, and the changes may
detrimental to not only to the human
populations, but also to the
factors influence environmental quality. Factors
that students might
population growth, resource use, population distribution,
overconsumption, the capacity of technology to solve problems,
poverty, the role of economic, political,
religious views, and different ways humans view the earth.
NATURAL AND HUMAN-INDUCED HAZARDS
Some hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,
and severe weather, are
rapid and spectacular. But there are slow and progressive changes that
result in problems for individuals and societies. For
example, changes in stream channel positions,
erosion of bridge foundations, sedimentation in lakes and harbors,
coastal erosions, and the continuing erosion and wasting
of soil and landscapes can all negatively affect
The following website is a great resource for current
information about areas where chronic arsenic poisoning
is an issue: http://phys4.harvard.edu/~wilson/arsenic/countries/arsenic_project_countries.html#canada
and Resource Websites
PULSE Resource Section on Arsenic
EHP on Arsenic: collection of articles http://www.ehponline.org/topic/arsenic.html
In this apply lesson, students will begin by revisiting
their explore lesson. Ask students, “Of
the ways you saw that arsenic can get into people’s
systems, which of those ways involved it getting
into the drinking water?” (Pesticides,
mine tailings and geological events/characteristics
of an area should be mentioned).
Student groups will then be given one area of the world
that is currently having issues with arsenic contamination
of the water. Teachers should pick from the list in
the following site: http://phys4.harvard.edu/~wilson/arsenic/countries/arsenic_project_countries.html#canada.
We might recommend Bangladesh, Chile, Inner Mongolia,
Nepal, Vietnam, USA (pick a region) but other locations
can be picked if desired.
Students will be split into four groups and spend the
first day working to identify 5 internet resources (one
computer per group); they will then print out each of
their 5 resources as their resource material. They must
1) What the problem is in the country/region (summarize)?
2) What is the origin of the arsenic (and in what form…chemically)?
3) Who is affected? Are there groups more at risk than
4) What are the symptoms of the arsenic poisoning?
5) What is being done to try to solve the problem?
(They should also be able to identify their area on
a world map)
Each group will be given 5 colors of highlighter or
pen to identify the sections of the articles that address
each of these 5 questions. Teachers should spot check
around the classroom during this part of the activity.
Student groups will formulate complete answers to the
above questions to present in class the following day.
They may use ONLY those resources they have gathered.
Students will then, as a group, present the answers
to these questions in front of the class for their area
(They will begin by affixing a pin to their area on
a wall map and at the end of all the presentations a
string will be attached to a sheet with their questions
and answers that will be on the wall of the classroom).
Each student will be given a packet with 4 sheets to
take notes on the answers to the 5 questions for later
reference and practice in note-taking.
Once the lesson is completed, go back to the list of
ways arsenic can contaminate drinking water and ask
students to show which of these their area was affected
by, then discuss what differences were seen in each
mechanism and why there might be differences (dose,
chemical composition of the arsenic, cultural habits,
method of exposure). Then discuss whether each is acute
or chronic poisoning and why? Finally, ask students
to give their opinions as to whether or not the solutions
being worked on in each case will be sufficient to tackle
the problem and why or why not?
At the end of this learning cycle, students will be
asked to revisit their ideas about the original article.
Do they know what is in the water they drink? How can
they find out? What do they think is important for the
general public to know? Encourage them to find out what
their parents might know. They will also be asked to
assess their resources. Were there enough appropriate
resources? What would your ideal resource look like?
note-taking skills, ability to weed through and target
relevant information, and appropriate addressing of
given questions can all be assessed, as well as group
dynamics. As with the previous lessons, this lesson
should make the state of current student understanding