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Human Impacts on the Environment

Module Summary
This module focuses on how humans have changed the world around us in a myriad of small and large ways.  Students start with an activity that explores the rapid spread of disease in dense populations (such as a city).  Next, students use bacteria and common household antiseptics to examine evolution.  This lesson emphasizes the accelerated evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria due to over-use of antibiotics and antiseptics.  In the third activity, students create a model neighborhood and river community to examine the impact of their every day actions on the environment.  The conclusion to the unit is a molecular investigation into the unanticipated results of pesticide runoff.  In this activity, students test to see how species diversity is affected in an area that does not receive pesticide spraying.  A genetic analysis, including DNA gel electrophoresis, helps students answer this question.

Grade Levels

Module Materials (view or download)
Disease Detectives
Bacterial Evolution
Human Impact: Down the River
Species Diversity

Module Activity Overview Estimated Class Time
Disease Detectives 1 (90 min) class
Bacterial Evolution 1 (75 min) class & 1 follow-up (20 min) activity
River of Shame 1 (90 min) class
Species Diversity 2 (90 min) classes




Last updated: 3/10/2015