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Lessons

Looking for some resources to help you teach kids about environmental health? Here are some good sources for lesson plans, activities, educational materials, and more.

Classroom Materials for Teachers

Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Keyword Description Grade Level
Alcohol Toxicity Testing with California Blackworms: Alcohol(419KB) Toxicology is a fundamental component of the scientific study of environmental health. This classroom experiment teaches students about the basic concepts of toxicology, including dose-response and exposure, through observing the effects of a toxicant (ethanol) on the behavior of California blackworms. This teacher's guide provides background information, laboratory instructions, discussion questions, and variations and supplemental activities for conducting the experiment.   5-8 9-12  
Bacteria Guide to Plating Bacteria Using Sterile Technique - 2001(35KB) Bacteria are useful in a variety of classroom science experiments. This activity teaches the basic laboratory techniques for growing bacteria in Petri dishes. This guide consists of a teacher version and a student version of the instructions.   5-8 9-12  
Cancer Good Cells Gone Bad - 2001(102KB) This activity teaches students about the cellular changes that lead to cancer. It provides an overview of the prevalence of cancer, cell structure, and function, and a classroom activity and worksheet that reinforce lessons about cellular structure and the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.   5-8 9-12  
Community Community Action and the Environment - Can You Help Save the Environment?(611KB) This booklet, with an accompanying video, provides an overview of environmental pollution and ways in which citizens may contribute to the study and alleviation of pollution problems. It provides descriptions of and resources for four assignments that reinforce scientific methods for studying environmental problems. The first assignment encourages students to observe their local environment and think about potential sources of pollution. The second introduces the concept of disease clusters and demonstrates the concepts of probability and statistical distributions. The third assignment encourages group discussion of local environmental issues and requires students to learn about local environmental authorities and utilities. The fourth encourages critical thinking about local and global environmental problems. The booklet also includes a list of recommended printed and Internet resources.     9-12  
Disease Cluster Busters: A Game of Disease Mystery Solving(632KB) A Game of Disease Mystery Solving Scenario: Dr. Wanda B. Better (Infant Pulmonary Hemorrhage)     9-12  
Disease Growth and Disease - 2001(123KB) The spread of diseases continues to be an important public health concern in the United States and abroad. Teaching accurate information about the nature and consequences of the growth and spread of disease is essential for helping students protect their own health and the health of others. This lesson aims to provide such information through four learning activities that address the following subjects: the spread of viruses, antibiotic action and microbial resistance to drugs, the spread and control of parasitic organisms, and the probability of contracting diseases. The teaching materials package includes an overview of the entire lesson and a description of the objectives, performance tasks, class structure, procedures, and evaluation of each activity.     9-12  
Environmental Justice Issues    Case Study: A Civil Action(133KB) In this short activity, students view an excerpt from the 1998 film A Civil Action, which is based on the 1996 non-fiction account of a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts. After viewing the film, students assume the role of environmental scientists and apply their knowledge of water and hazardous waste contamination to create a plan to help lawyer, Jan Schlichtmann, try the case. This activity can be used as an assessment piece to determine your students' understanding of the many variables influencing water quality studies, especially when health risks are involved.
Subjects: Reading, Writing, Communication, Science, Social studies, History, Civics, Economics 
  5-8 9-12  
Environmental Justice Issues    Introducing Students to Environmental Justice: A North Carolina Case Study(184KB) In this activity, students will be introduced to environmental justice by considering a North Carolina case study that involved a hazardous waste landfill and is often credited with launching the national environmental justice movement. This lesson follows the 5E inquiry model, using engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation to promote student learning.
Subjects: Reading, Writing, Communication, Science, Social studies, History, Civics, Economics 
  5-8 9-12  
Environmental Justice Issues    Water: Muddle Up and Clean Up(305KB) In this activity, adapted from the lesson "There Is No Point to This Pollution" in the Water Quality Educators Guide by Healthy Water, Healthy People, students use critical thinking to predict how water becomes polluted. This activity is designed to safely model the ways in which pollutants and hazardous chemicals may react when they reach water and the cumulative effect of land uses on water quality. Common household items (food coloring, vegetable oil and corn syrup) represent pollutants and also hazardous chemicals that are commonly found at hazardous waste sites, including Superfund sites, across the country. By simulating the contamination of water by various kinds of chemicals, students are introduced to current information on hazardous waste sites in North Carolina and the clean up techniques being employed.
Subjects: Reading, Writing, Communication, Science, Social studies, History, Civics, Economics 
  5-8 9-12  
Microorganisms University of Rochester Summer Science Camp--Microorganisms - 1999(361KB) A collection of 12 experiments and activities related to microorganisms in plant life, blood cells and skin cells, including an at-home activity. They were developed for use at the University of Rochester's 1999 Summer Science Camp for students in grades 5 through 8.     9-12  
Nicotine Toxicity Testing with California Blackworms: Nicotine(337KB) Toxicology is a fundamental component of the scientific study of environmental health. This classroom experiment teaches students about the basic concepts of toxicology, including dose-response, and exposure, through observing the effects of a toxicant (nicotine) on the behavior of California blackworms. This teacher's guide provides background information, laboratory instructions, discussion questions, and variations and supplemental activities for conducting the experiment.   5-8 9-12  
Nuclear Nuclear Energy: the Good, the Bad, and the Debatable(479KB) curriculum booklet   5-8 9-12  
Plants Race to Find the Cure: Isolation of Chemicals from Plant Leaves(68KB) Many important pharmaceuticals and other chemicals are derived from plants. This classroom experiment teaches students about the isolation of plant chemicals using chromatography. Students apply different mixtures of spinach extract, beet leaf extract, and food coloring to strips of filter paper; observe the separation of the components of the mixtures; and extract the isolated components from the filter paper using water. This package of materials includes a teacher's guide, student instructions and notes, and discussion questions and answers.     9-12  
Pesticides Isolation of Naturally Occurring Pesticides: In this classroom experiment, students learn principles of biology, environmental science, and ecology by observing the effects on fruit flies of naturally occurring pesticides, such as those found in various spices and flowers. This teacher's guide provides background information, a list of necessary materials, preparation instructions, and recommendations for variations on the experiment.
    9-12  
Risk Risk Management - 2001(97KB) The purpose of this lesson is to investigate risk management, in order to prepare students to analyze risks and make informed choices based on their analyses. Using four learning activities, students in grades 9-12 build conceptual understanding, scientific investigation and practical reasoning while developing and using reading, writing, and mathematics.     9-12  
Risk Risk Management and Health Care - 2001(112KB) An understanding of health care is critical for maintaining one's own health. This lesson aims to identify and investigate health care issues so that students maintain good health.       9-12  
Risk Risk Management: Health Risks - 2001(96KB) An understanding of health care is critical for maintaining one's own health. This lesson aims to help students identify and investigate health risks through four learning activities that address the following subjects: common causes of death, evaluation of personal daily health risks, health risks of substance abuse, and stress and mental health. The teaching materials package includes an overview of the entire lesson and a description of the objectives, performance tasks, class structure, procedures, and evaluation of each activity.     9-12  
Tobacco Tobacco Induced Mutations - 2001(562KB) Toxicology is a fundamental component of environmental health science. This classroom activity teaches about the basic concepts of toxicology as well as the scientific method and laboratory techniques by observing the mutagenic effects of tobacco on bacteria. Students prepare plates of bacteria and observe the effects on the colonies of the addition of varying concentrations of tobacco extract. The package of materials includes a teacher's guide, student instructions, student and class (pooled) data sheets, and discussion questions.     9-12  

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NIEHS Resources

As part of its education outreach efforts, NIEHS offers educational tours/visits of the Institute in Research Triangle Park, NC. The tours offer area K thru 12 and college/university students and teachers the opportunity to learn about a wide range of fascinating topics related to environmental health, along with an inside look at some of the career options available to those who are considering employment in biomedical research.

Institute tours are conducted weekdays during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and are reserved on a first-come first-served basis. Tour groups are limited to 50 participants.

Learn about professional development opportunities around the country and research opportunities at NIEHS.

Other Resources

Interactive, educational, and fun activities that are linked to national education standards for science and health.
NIH Curriculum Supplement for Middle School, Grades 7 - 8.
Educational resources and climate education collections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Digital media for the classroom and professional development.
NIH Curriculum Supplement for Middle School, Grades 7 - 8.

These are just a few examples of great work from scientific kids. The possibilities are endless for what you can do. Follow the links below and get inspired.

Other Kids Environmental Art Resources!

There is no machinery at The Imagination Factory, and they don't have smokestacks that pollute the air. Instead, they teach children and their caregivers creative ways to recycle by making art. Recycling is one way to minimize or lessen the amount of trash we have to throw away. When we recycle, we make a new product out of waste materials. This process helps save natural resources like trees as well as landfill space and the money needed to get rid of trash.
Aims to inspire kids to be creative in hopes for a healthier future by combining art and science.
Adventures with art- interactive activities and projects.
From Art to Zoo, the Smithsonian has something to interest kids and students of all ages.
musical notes
Other stuff you might like ...
Sing-Along Songs
With words and music!
Go!
Male Scientist Ready to Speak
Other stuff you might like ...
Speakers Bureau
Our scientists are available to come talk about a variety of topics involving your environment and your health.
Go!
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