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Water Mitigation
Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: 3-4 class periods
Preparation
Time:
Prepare student directions for the computer lab.
Materials: Student directions and access to computer lab

 


Abstract
Students will conclude their study of the impact that arsenic in water has on human health by participating in a case study on Bangladesh. Students will role play members of the World Health Organization or scientists in order to participate in a panel discussion on how to resolve the problem of arsenic contamination.

Objectives
Students will be able to:
1. Identify the major health effects of arsenic contamination.
2. Explain how arsenic gets into groundwater in Bangladesh.
3. List ways to prevent arsenic from getting into drinking water.
4. Explain why access to clean water is important to world peace within a class discussion

National Geography Standard
Environment and Society:
Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems.
Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

Teacher Background
Divide the class into groups of four. One group will be members of the World Health Organization and the other groups will be scientists. The presentations will have greater impact if students have access to technology to create a slide show for their presentations.

Related and Resource Websites
http://phys4.harvard.edu/%7Ewilson/arsenic/arsenic_project_introduction.html "Arsenic Project"
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/arsenic/en/ "World Health Organization"
http://www.who.int/en/ "Home page of World Health Organization"

 

 

Activity
Days 1-2
Students will prepare to address the members of the World Health Organization on the issue of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh. Divide the class into groups of 4: One group will role play members of the World Health organization. Members of the WHO will research the site:
http://www.who.int/en/

Group members will explore the site in order to complete the following:
1. Write a one-page description of the World Health Organization; including its purpose, goals and when it was founded.

2. Each group member should take on the role of one of the 34 executive board members. Students should explore the WHO page “Governance” to find the information needed. Each student will introduce themselves at the meeting with scientists studying arsenic in water.

3. Students will explore the statistics page in order to explain other important issues being dealt with and whether they take precedent over arsenic in water and why.

4. Group members should compile a list of questions they will ask during the meeting.

The other groups will be composed of scientists and doctors who will address the WHO panel.
Students will go to the lab research the sites:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/arsenic/en/
http://phys4.harvard.edu/%7Ewilson/arsenic/arsenic_project_introduction.htmlin order to prepare a report for the panel.

Items to include in the report:
1. Overview of the problem.

2. Arguments to promote a sense of urgency; what might be the worst case scenario if the problem of arsenic contamination is not dealt with.

3. Pictures, charts and any other visuals that will generate interest in the problem should be included in the report.

4. Suggestions on mitigation (how to deal with the problem of arsenic contamination).Students should present a recommendation on what is the best method to pursue and why.

Day 3
Student groups will present their report to the WHO panel. Each group member should contribute to the presentation. Members of the WHO panel will take notes on the presentations and ask questions of the group members. Student panel members are expected to ask at least two questions during each group presentation.

Day 4
WHO panel members will convene and discuss their observations of the group presentations. The discussion will be done in a “fish bowl” format where the members of WHO will sit in the middle of the room and the other students will form a circle around the WHO panel. This will allow students to observe the discussion taking place. WHO panel members are expected to refer to their notes in order to provide valid comments on the pros and cons of each presentation. At the end of the discussion they will present their decision to the class. Their decision statement should include the following:

  • What they perceive to be the major problem
  • The health consequences of the problem of arsenic contamination
  • The mitigation process they believe will be the most viable and why
  • The role WHO and other world organizations will take in addressing the solution

Closure
Have the class discuss the following at the conclusion of the panel’s discussion:
1. How might scarcity of safe water lead to conflict? Give examples.
2. Why is arsenic contamination a global issue?
3. How might water quality impact the economy of a society?
4. Do you agree with the final decision of the student panel?

Embedded Assessment
The class discussion and the group reports provide a medium for the students to be assessed on their ability to identify the major health effects of arsenic contamination; explain how arsenic gets into groundwater in Bangladesh; list ways to prevent arsenic from getting into drinking water; and explain why access to clean water is important to world peace. Students can be informally assessed on their ability to raise pertinent questions during the formal panel discussion.
Students will be assessed on the quality of their reports and on their participation in group discussion.

 



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

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LOGO - NIEHS Center LOGO - NIEHS

Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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