The goal that I, as a science teacher, expect to accomplish with “Where are Environmental Hazards?” curriculum is to have students develop an understanding of the following: toxicity, exposure, and precautions of certain chemicals including pesticides such as DDT, heavy metals, lead poisoning, radon, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, water pollution, drinking water quality, and air pollution. Some emphases in this curriculum will be on conducting: hands-on activities such as testing water quality from tap water, classroom testing of radon and carbon monoxide in the air, debates and analyses of various environmental issues, field trips, and mock environmental investigations of homes / buildings in order to identify agents that do or do not meet standards for pollutants. These mock investigations will require students to understand scientific measurement units such as ppb (parts per billion), ppm (parts per million), mcg (microgram), pCi (picocurie), dL (deciliter), and L (liter), and to determine if the given numerical values of concentration and time pose an environmental threat.
The curriculum is designed to integrate the following: readings of texts and current scientific journals, writings based on students’ opinions of environmental issues, and cooperation activities for groups of students. The approach for this curriculum is interdisciplinary, combining science, mathematics, and language arts. Upon reading this unit, it will become apparent how knowledge from many academic subjects plays a critical role in developing answers for the questions that can be addressed in environmental science. Some of these questions can be: What threats do pesticides in your food pose? What are ways to get pesticides out of your food? What are some possible contaminants in our drinking water? How can you find out if your water is safe? What are some possible contaminants in our air? How do we pollute indoor air? What can you do about your indoor air quality? How should toxic waste disposal be handled?
The student population that I will be targeting for this curriculum will be my Chemistry and Earth Science classes. These students might already have a minimal basis of environmental science, but through this unit they can extend their knowledge of specific environmental pollutants, causes, effects, and solutions. At my school, the student / teacher ratio for these classes is approximately 10:1, therefore; a considerable amount of individual attention may be given for each student. This concentrated focus on each student’s comprehension and performance of discussions, labs, essays, and investigations will allow me to expand on certain topics that are of special interest to the student. Also, each student’s working pace can vary depending on the activity she is doing. This will permit some students to stay on one topic for an extended period of time, or to move ahead to another topic of particular choice.
The following represent environmental topics to be discussed: