Who am I?
Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: 3 class periods
Prepare 20 questions game
Copy instructions for students on country research
Make cards of target countries for drawing.
Materials: Clues for 20 questions
Instructions for country research
Cards of target countries for drawing


Following the lesson "Water: The Indispensable Resource” students should have an appreciation of how central water is to survival and the role it can play in politics. They will now explore what happens when a civilization’s water supply is polluted.

Arsenic has had a major impact on human health as it is present in the water supplies of countries on nearly every continent in the world. This lesson will allow the students to explore the major countries that have been affected by this contaminate 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 the impact on their survival.

Students will be able to:
1. Provide a basic description of one country that has arsenic in its water supply.
2. Locate these countries on a map.

National Geography Standard
Students should

  • Understand the physical and human characteristics of places.
  • Understand how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

Teacher Background
The countries that will be the target of this study were chosen because they have all had to contend with some means of arsenic contamination in their water supply.

Related and Resource Websites
http://geography.about.com/library/maps/blindex.htm for country research



Day 1 - One Class Period:
1. Introduce this activity through a modified game of twenty questions. Start by telling the students that they will be assigned a country to research. The target countries have been selected based on one common factor: they have dealt with arsenic contamination in their water supply.

2. Tell the students: The first task is to identify the target countries through a list of clues that I will read to you. After a clue is given raise your hand if you can identify the country. (Note: some countries have more than one clue, use them if needed)

3. Write the name of each country on the board as it is identified.

4. The clues are on Appendix 1.

5. After students have identified the target countries ask them to identify the continent they are on. Place sticky notes or pins on a world map to designate the location of the target countries. (If a wall map is not available, make a transparency).

6. Ask students what they know about the culture or history of any of the countries that have been listed.

7. Assign students one of the countries for them to study. This can be done by having students draw a card with the country’s name on it.

8. Assign students to work in small groups of 2-3.

9. Conclude by telling the students that they will research their country in the computer lab on the following day.

Days 2 & 3 - Two Class Periods:
Give the following instructions to the students:

Go to the following website: http://geography.about.com/library/maps/blindex.htm and find your country. Search the website to find data to complete the following:

1. Use the site to obtain information to create a poster size map of your country that will be displayed in the room (poster size map will be constructed at a later time). Use a small desk map to include the following geographic features:

    • bordering countries and/or waterways
    • major rivers
    • mountain ranges
    • major cities and * for the capital city
    • deserts and any other significant geographic features
    • Include a map symbol that shows distance

2. In your notebook list major geographic concerns facing the inhabitants of your country.
Examples: landlocked; extreme climate, etc.
Are there any unique geographic features in this country? If so list them.

3. In your notebook identify the following cultural features of your country:

Ethnic groups
Health concerns and life expectancy
Economy; major sources of revenue
Per capita income
Travel/tourist information: interesting sites, festivals and other facts for a visitor. Are there any warnings listed for potential travelers? If so, what are they?

* You will use the information from your notebook to plan a field trip to your country at a later date.

4. After the students have completed their research they will return to the class in order to collaborate with their partner to plan a field trip to their country.

Embedded Assessment
1. The poster map is an initial assessment of whether students can correctly identify and describe a country within the world that has arsenic water problems.


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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