Instructor Materials: Overview of the Lead in the Environment Module
- Learning goal 1: Describe the circulation of lead within the environment and its impacts on human health.
- Learning goal 2: Characterize distribution of lead exposure risk as it varies temporally and spatially.
- Learning goal 3: Predict potential sources of exposure and develop appropriate solutions for prevention and intervention.
- Learning goal 4: Assess the role of science, regulatory, and public health frameworks in solving complex issues of environmental health and equity.
Module Summative Assessment: Students will apply what they have learned about the sources, risks, and consequences of child lead poisoning to design solutions for a hypothetical community in which a high percentage of the children have elevated blood lead levels. During the final classroom exercise, each student will be assigned to a role as a community stakeholder (low income parent, physician, educator, landlord, etc.) or city-council member. Students will also be given data and materials showing distribution of elevated blood lead levels among children in the city. In groups, during class, the students will prepare and present a proposal to City Council. The subsequent discussion will allow the class as a whole to explore any gaps in the discussion. Students will apply what they have learned about the sources, risks, and consequences of child lead poisoning to design solutions for a hypothetical community in which a high percentage of the children have elevated blood lead levels.
- Learning goal 1: Describe how the use of lead has resulted in its current distribution throughout the environment.
- Learning goal 2: Using quantitative and historical data, compare and contrast how the risk of lead exposure varies by (i) age, (ii) race/ethnicity, (iii) socioeconomic status, and/or (iv) geographic site within a given location.
- Learning goal 3: For a given community scenario, develop a plan for (i) addressing existing sources of lead exposure risk and (ii) preventing new sources of lead exposure risk.
- Learning goal 4: To support this plan, draw a conceptual figure for the lead system that illustrates the system's different parts (e.g. geosphere, ecosphere, human communities, human body) AND explains how lead moves from one part of the system to another part of the system.
In Unit 1, students engage in discussion of the historical use and resulting distribution of lead throughout the human environment. Class 1 introduces the systems dynamics linking geology, human use, and human health through an introductory lesson. Class discussion is facilitated by an exercise exploring students' risks of childhood exposure to lead. In a "pre-assessment exercise" suitable for homework or in-class group activity, students hypothesize explanations for varied lead exposures among different populations over time based on their existing understanding of lead's dynamics in the environment. Class 2 analyzes the evolution of regulations and policies to reduce lead exposures and examines a current international case study that showcases the lag in regulatory guidelines for many parts of the world. In Class 3, students explore exposure routes, transport, and fate of lead in the human body.
In Unit 2, students examine the distribution of lead poisoning as it varies spatially and temporally. Students also have the opportunity to explore the sources of lead exposure and the implications of social determinants on human health outcomes. In Class 4, students analyze historic and geographic trends in lead poisoning at state and county scales, while evaluating factors that influence data quality and availability. In Class 5, students evaluate spatial and temporal patterns within a US city and identify the causes and patterns of disparate lead exposure within a population. In Class 6, students conduct a virtual home assessment to evaluate whether or not dust is a source of lead exposure in this case study.
In the past two units, students considered the strengths and limitations of scientific tools to identify exposure pathways and demographic patterns of lead poisoning. In Unit 3, students evaluate domestic regulatory approaches and apply policy solutions. In Class 7, students explore the role of scientists, regulators, and communities in the development of lead regulations. In the final two classes, students analyze various perspectives within a community and confront the challenge of reaching consensus. Students participate in a debate and engage in a two-part summative assessment where each student: (1) writes a one-page policy memo recommending a particular course of action for this community based on evidence gained throughout the module and presented in the exercise, and (2) creates a visual representation of the cyclic patterns of lead in the biophysical and human environment.
Making the Module Work
To adapt all or part of the Lead in the Environment module for your classroom, you will also want to read through
- Instructor Stories, which detail how the Lead in the Environment module was adapted for use at three different institutions, as well as our guide to
- Adapting InTeGrate Modules and Courses for Your Classroom, which outlines how to effectively use InTeGrate modules and courses.