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Chemistry Lessons

Chemistry is incorporated into two units of the PULSE curricula: Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health and This Land is our Land, Fighting for Your Health. There are chemistry components to other units as well.


The lessons are organized to concentrate on important big ideas, which are addressed by a learning cycle approach. At the completion of each big idea’s learning cycle students should be able to answer the corresponding essential question.

Typically, each learning cycle contains four lessons. The lessons associated with a specific learning cycle may take from a couple of days to a few weeks to complete. The first lesson engages the students' interest in the big idea, prompting them to demonstrate the background they bring to the topic and to ask questions. In the second lesson, students explore the big idea, searching for answers to their questions and expanding their understanding of the concept. The third lesson is an opportunity for students to explain the big idea. In the fourth lesson the students apply what they learned to a new situation.

The chemistry learning cycles of Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health and This Land is our Land, Fighting for Your Health, address National Education Standards for chemistry. Students explore concepts of chemistry that have shaped the United States’ history. These two units also address social studies, language arts and general mathematics.

  • In "Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health", described below, students investigate advances in technologies that have revolutionized our lives. Accompanying these advances are new chemicals, different levels of exposure and new work conditions. This unit addresses the question of, “How does a society maintain a safe environmental health in the work place and the home?”
  • In "This Land is our Land, Fighting for Your Health", described below, students explore the increases in knowledge in the field of chemistry, which have led to advances in more that just “heavy” industry. Chemicals are discovered and designed to assist in almost every field imaginable. This unit will focus on the impact chemistry has on human health via agricultural practices; including the use of fertilizers and pesticide.

At the end of the unit, the students will be able to apply their new understanding to the Major Project where they produce a product to demonstrate what they learned in the unit

  • For "Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health", the major project emphasizes the responsible use and disposal of chemicals by industry and targets a widespread environmental health issue that affects many communities today.
  • For "This Land is our Land, Fighting for Your Health", students will respond to a call for action concerning a community based health related issue that targets specifically their understanding of chemistry. Students will examine how non-formal public speaking can be persuasive and inspiring. They develop a motivational speech and will have opportunities to share this speech.
"Industrialization, Chemicals and Human Health"
5 Essential Questions for 5 Big Ideas
Project time to complete: 6 weeks
     
1
Is nuclear energy the fuel of the future?
Big Idea
Nuclear reactions release energy without the combustion products of burning fuels, but the radioactivity of fuels and by-products poses other risks, which may last for thousands of years.
     
2
Can fossil fuels provide a safe fuel for the future?
Big Idea
The combustion of fossil fuels increases the mass of carbon dioxide in the air. This may lead to global warming.
     
3
How can a chemical reaction be controlled?
Big Idea
By understanding chemical processes, we can prevent disasters such as occurred in 1984 at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.
     
4
How can trichloroethylene be removed from the groundwater?
Big Idea
The illegal dumping of chemicals such as Trichloroethylene causes health problems as it pollutes our environment. Cleaning up this mess is a major problem facing us and our children.
     
5
Is it worth the risk?
Big Idea
Ammonium Nitrate is a useful fertilizer providing nitrogen for plants. It is also a powerful explosive that has caused many disasters.
     

 

"This Land is our Land, Fighting for your Health"
5 Essential Questions for 5 Big Ideas
Project time to complete: 7 weeks
     
1
What makes a substance toxic?
Big Idea
As Paracelsus stated: “The dose makes the poison.”  The science of toxicology is based on the principle that there is a relationship between an organism’s toxic reaction (response) and the amount (the dose) ingested, inhaled or absorbed.
     
2
What products are toxic?
Big Idea
Concentration (dose) determines if a substance is toxic. Many substances considered non-toxic can become toxic if the concentration or type of exposure is changed.
     
3
How can the risks versus the benefits associated with pesticides be understood and communicated?
Big Idea
Many pesticides are toxic to people, yet as a population, we rely heavily on them for safety and convenience.
     
4
What is the effect of fertilizer on plants and animals?
Big Idea
Given the proper concentration fertilizers can increase the production of many plants, but sometimes at the expense of other organisms.
     
5
Is it worth the risk?
Big Idea
Ammonium Nitrate is a useful fertilizer providing nitrogen for plants. It is also a powerful explosive that has caused many disasters.
     

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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Last update: March 7, 2007
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo