Government Lessons

The government lessons are incorporated into three units of the PULSE curricula. The three units are Powerful Explorations of Health and Energy,Health Friendly Energy Production and Protecting Human Subjects: Skin Cancer Clinical Studies. There are Government 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 driving 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 Government learning cycles of Powerful Explorations of Health and Energy, Health Friendly Energy Production and Protecting Human Subjects: Skin Cancer Clinical Studies, address National Standards for Social Studies and students explore concepts of a Government that have shaped the America’s history. These three units also address science, language arts and general mathematics.

  • In "Powerful Explorations of Health and Energy", described below, students investigate the role government plays in protecting human health by considering the impact of laws and policies on health. The government must also reflect health concerns related to the impact energy creating industries have on the environment and the environmental health impact of the use of energy sources.
  • In "Health Friendly Energy Production", described below, students investigate how the Government policies can play crucial roles in protecting us and our health from a myriad of environmental factors, specifically those which humans have control over. In this unit students will explore the judicial routes that have and can be taken to impact governmental policy regarding environmental health factors.
  • In "Protecting Human Subjects: Skin Cancer Clinical Studies", described below, students investigate the cutting edge technologies in both physics and biology which are being implemented for both detecting and curing disease. Students also learn about the modern history of scientific research involving human subjects and what regulations and documents exist for the protection of these participants.

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

  • For "Powerful Explorations of Health and Energy", students will organize a moot court. A moot court provides the venue for students to assimilate what they have learned from science, government, language arts and mathematics as they address environmental health and biomedical issues. In preparation for this moot court they must research cases related to environmental health or biotechnology and drug issues. They will prepare for the case and carry it out using the background they have developed over the past semester.
  • For "Health Friendly Energy Production ", students will form a task force that has been called together to talk about energy policies, but it isn’t all about how are we going to get fuel our world, we also must figure out how to do this with as little impact on human health as possible. Task force members include those who are particularly interested in this aspect of energy policy.
  • For "Protecting Human Subjects: Skin Cancer Clinical Studies", Students will participate in a simulation of a Senate hearing before the committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The subject of the hearing is to determine whether the Senate will approve a bill proposing federal regulations on the use of tanning booths by minors and a mandated education program on sun awareness.


"Powerful Explorations of Health and Energy"
4 Essential Questions for 4 Big Ideas
Project time to complete: 8 weeks
How does a bill become a law and who are the major players in the process?
Big Idea
Going Beyond the Flow Chart; the role of legislators, committees and floor leaders in the lawmaking process.
How do interest groups use lobbying and media to impact legislation?
Big Idea
Interest groups have a huge impact on the legislative process through lobbying strategies
How effective is the Executive branch in influencing public policy?
Big Idea
How the Executive Branch implements and enforces public policy
Who really has the greatest impact on making energy and environmental policies?
Big Idea
Who’s Got the Power? The role of the Iron Triangle in public policy


"Health Friendly Energy Production "
3 Essential Questions for 3 Big Ideas
Project time to complete: 6 weeks
Who is responsible for enforcing environmental legislation?
Big Idea
Federalism: The border between the federal and state governments in carrying out the laws is not always clear.
How does our legal system work?
Big Idea
The Judicial Branch: How the justice system interprets the laws and settles legal disputes.
What happens when Federal agencies are ineffective in protecting the citizens from the harmful effects of pollution?
Big Idea

Environmental Justice: The courts are often called on to settle disputes between the federal and/or state government and members of the private sector.



"Protecting Human Subjects: Skin Cancer Clinical Studies"
2 Essential Questions for 2 Big Ideas
Project time to complete: 3 weeks
Why is the role of government in biomedical research important to participants in clinical trials?
Big Idea
The Role of Government in Biomedical Research and Clinical Trials
How does the federal government work on improving healthcare in the United States?
Big Idea
The Role of Government in Biomedical Research and Clinical Trials







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: March 8, 2007
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