Backyard Toxicology

Fellow:  Lauren Esposito

Course Purpose

Backyard Toxicology is designed to make scientific research and writing accessible to students, allowing them to think critically about scientific research. By reading and dissecting scientific articles, students will learn core concepts in Toxicology and make connections to other disciplines of science, they will then learn to design and conduct their own authentic  Toxicology research.

Course Description

The only thing more valuable than teaching science is teaching how to think scientifically. Science is often taught sequentially, beginning with students memorizing terms for a particular topic and culminating in an experiment. However, the skills needed to ‘think like a scientist’ don’t fit well into this sequence my response. Backyard Toxicology uses an interdisciplinary subject as a way of exposing students to the scientific thought process. It synthesizes students’ existing knowledge of biology and chemistry concepts and then integrates critical reading of research articles and authentic toxicology research. Toxicology is all around us, it’s constantly in the news and toxins affect us on a daily basis. In some areas of the Bronx, NY - where this course was developed,  twenty-five percent of children suffer from asthma as a result of air toxins. And, one in four New York City residents lives within a mile of a state Superfund site. These issues are on the minds of high school students, and make toxicology an appealing subject.

There are no pre-requisites for the course, but students should have a basic understanding of biology and chemistry.

Course Outline:

Unit 1  CREATE Toxicology

Activity 1  Introduction to Toxicology and Ethanol Blackworm Lab

Activity 2  Newspaper Article Concept Mapping; Read

Activity 3  Elucidate the Hypothesis; Analyze and Interpret the Data

Activity 4  Think of the Next Experiment

Activity 5  Nicotine Blackworm Lab

Activity 6  Journal Article Concept Mapping

Activity 7  Read

Activity 8  Elucidate the Hypothesis

Activity 9  Analyze and Interpret the Data

Unit 2  Toxicology Research

Activity 10  Experiment Proposals

Activity 11  Research Projects

Activity 12  Reporting Results