Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix
Betsy Wilkening
WebQuest Worksheet (attached to lesson)
Computer with Internet Access
Poster Paper
Organisms and Their Environments
Water Cycle, Weather, and Climate
Atmospheric Science
General Environmental Studies
General Polar Science

Students will discover how a simple action such as turning on a television will lead to toxins in our food supply. Many of these toxins concentrate in the Arctic because of long-range transport of pollutants in the atmosphere. Scientists in the OASIS project ( study these pollutants in the Arctic. Students will learn about actions that they can take to reduce these pollutants.


Methylmercury and POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) are toxins that bioaccumlate in organisms. These toxins have entered our food supply and most people don't understand the situation. After this lesson, students will understand:

  • What is happening to the fish and wildlife
  • How it is affecting them
  • How it is affecting the people and animals in the Arctic
  • What government and industry are doing about it
  • What they can do about it


Before starting the WebQuest, the teacher should use the "Bioaccumulation of Toxins" assignment to give the students background in toxins, methylmercury, POPs and the concept of bioaccumulation.

  1. Show the students how to access the WebQuest on the Internet.
  2. Review the following parts of the WebQuest with the students: a. Introduction b. Task c. Process d. Evaluation e. Conclusion f. Vocabulary g. Attachments

  3. Part I of the "Process" section contains all of the questions that are one the student worksheet. Each question contains a reference or link to where the student can find the answer. Demonstrate the resources available for the questions: a. Resources typed in Green Text are available as documents at the bottom of the WebQuest webpage under "Attachments." b. The pages listed in the EPA POPs pdf file are numbered as seen in the toolbar for the pdf viewer, they are not the page numbers at the bottom of each page. c. The resources typed in Red Text are available as links to other websites.


  1. Students will work individually to answer all of the questions within the WebQuest worksheet, utilizing the resources on the WebQuest webpage.
  2. Once the research is complete and the worksheet completed, students will work in pairs to create posters.
  3. The posters will be used to inform the community about the situation. It will include the following information: a. How do POPs and Mercury get into our environment? b. How do POPs and Mercury get into wildlife and our food supply? c. What are the health effects of ingesting these toxins? d. What are the EPA recommendations for eating fish? e. Why is the Arctic at risk? f. What are the fish advisories for Arizona? g. What can we do to reduce toxins in our environment?


Webquest address:


The worksheet can be graded for correctness based upon the attached answer key. Poster: The requirements and grading rubric for the poster is given in the "Evaluation" section of the WebQuest webpage.


Betsy Wilkening, ewilkening [at]


5-8 Content Standard C: Life Science: d. Populations and ecosystems Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: a. Personal health b. Populations, resources, and environments d. Risks and benefits e. Science and technology in society 9-12 Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: a. Personal and community health d. Environmental quality e. Natural and human-induced hazards f. Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

Standards Other

Arizona State Science Standards Grade 7 Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Concept 1: Changes in Environments Describe the interactions between human populations, natural hazards, and the environment. PO 1. Analyze environmental risks (e.g., pollution, destruction of habitat) caused by human interaction with biological or geological systems. PO 3. Propose possible solutions to address the environmental risks in biological or geological systems. Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society Develop viable solutions to a need or problem. Strand 4: Life Science Concept 3: Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem Analyze the relationships among various organisms and their environment.

Attachment Size
Download Lesson (PDF - 232.5 KB)232.48 KB 232.48 KB

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.