Thinkport. Think education. Think Maryland.
Home |  Log In |   |  Register
  Content  Relatives  More Info  PrintClose

Lesson Plan   

    Lesson Information
    Outcomes and Standards
    Day Plans
    Enrichment Options
    Teacher Reflection

Stage 1
Identify Desired Results

Catchy Title: Organic Mechanic: Part I
Theme/Topic of Lesson: The Effects of Pesticide on Human Health
Time Commitment: Three 45-minute periods/blocks
Subject Area(s):
Grade Level(s): 6,7,8
Standards Alignment:
Class Challenge Question:

What effect does farming with chemicals (as opposed to organic farming) have on human health?


The use of chemical pesticides has been with us for long time, but it wasn't until World
War I and II that they became widespread. In the mid-1940s DDT was developed.
It wasn't until years later that this chemical was linked to major environmental problems.

Currently there are hundreds of different pesticides being used on the food we eat every
day. In the United States the department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection
Agency are responsible for making sure that the pesticides used by American farmers are
safe. But just how this is determined and the health impact chemical pesticides have on
people is of great controversy. Some people say that the levels we ingest are minimal and
of no health risk. Others say that the problems of cancer, excess estrogen production (in
women), headaches and a whole host of other medical problems can be traced to the
pesticides and other chemicals we are fed. Look in any major grocery store and you can
see that "Organic " food is more popular then ever. However, the high price, low
availability and different "aesthetic" quality of organic food make it less attractive to
many shoppers.

How much should we worry about what we eat? What is practical to try and do with our
own diets? How do we get students to eat healthy things and get them to think about
pesticides? This lesson tries to give students an introduction to both sides of the
pesticide/organic issue.

Part one of this lesson tries to introduce students to the basics of pest control information:
What is the need for pest control, what crops are eaten in Maryland, what are current
chemical and natural methods for pest control? Students will work individually and in
groups, using the Web as a resource, to address these questions in Part I of this unit.

In Part II students apply their knowledge in designing a garden and in exploring the
other factors in play when we make daily dietary decisions. Students will compare the
costs of organic food verses traditionally grown food by visiting stores and taking
surveys, culminating in a PowerPoint presentation. The overriding theme in Organic
Mechanic is what effect does farming with chemicals vs. organic farming have on human

Stage 2
Determine Acceptable Evidence

Skills and Processes
Maryland Content Standards
Students will explain how the nature of science has affected scientific inquiry, technology, and the history of science.
Maryland State Indicators
modify ideas based on new information from developmentally appropriate readings, data, and the ideas of others. (MLO 1.2.6.)
Skills and Processes
Maryland Content Standards
Students will explain how the nature of science has affected scientific inquiry, technology, and the history of science.
Maryland State Indicators
describe to others how scientific information was used. (MLO 1.2.7.)
Skills and Processes
Maryland Content Standards
Students will explain how the nature of science has affected scientific inquiry, technology, and the history of science.
Maryland State Indicators
access and process information from readings, investigations, and /or oral communications. (MLO 1.1.1.)
Life Science
Maryland Content Standards
Students will use scientific skills and processes to explain the dynamic nature of living things, their interactions, and the results from the interactions that occur over time.
Maryland State Indicators
analyze concepts (i.e., diseases, deficiencies, toxins, and other factors) that promote or disrupt the structure and function of living organisms. (MLO 3.3.)
Technology research tools
(Gr. 6-8)
ISTE Technology Standards

5. Technology research tools

  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Use content-specific tool

Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research.

Learning Objectives:

The Students will:
  • List pros and cons of using pesticides in farming and gardening.

  • Conduct research using the Internet, computer software, and printed material.

  • Analyze research and information on pesticide use vs.
    organic pest management
  • Define related vocabulary


Assessment opportunities in this lesson include oral
feedback and the Student Background Reading Guide on Day 1,
the Exploration of the Systems of the Human Body sheet,
Pesticide Internet Research sheet, and Veg Head Vocabulary
crossword on Day 2, and the production of Note Cards and a
KWL chart on Day 3. A PowerPoint presentation provides a
final assessment at the end of Organic Mechanic Part 2.

Assessments in this lesson:
* Oral feedback after An Apple A Day activity
* Student Background Reading Guide
* Exploration of the Systems of the Human Body sheet
* Pesticide Internet Research sheet
* Veg Head Vocabulary crossword
* The production of Note Cards towards the goal of a
PowerPoint presentation at the end of Organic Mechanic
Part 2
* KWL chart

These assessments measure both individual performance and
collaborative work and discussions. The assessment of
technology is built into the Exploration sheet, used with
streaming video, and the Note Cards, generated from online

Stage 3
Plan Learning Experiences


Internet SitesEnvironmental Protection Agency This site has a ton of information on pesticides
in an easily navigated format
The Ortho Homepage Ortho, the people who make all of the chemicals
for your lawn care, have a very nice site with a
lot of information
The Monsanto Homepage This company makes many of the products that are
used both by gardeners and commercial farmers.
Along with chemical pesticides, they produce
genetically engineered seeds.  A huge site
The Foodnews Web Site This site has some of the activities used in this
lesson. The site allows students to see just how
many pesticides they are being exposed to during
their normal eating day. The site includes student-
centered activities.
BrainPop This site has all of the online videos used in
the Body Systems activity. You can only access
two Brainpop videos per day for free, so you
might want to get a free trial subscription for
your school.

Per class
  • An apple for teacher demonstration
  • A sharp knife (teacher use only!)
  • Dishwashing liquid soap
  • Computer with Internet access and projection
Per student team/group of 2
  • An apple (non-organic - must have a coating of wax
    on the skin)
  • Paper towels (4-5 sheets)
  • Small tub of water
Per Student
  • An Apple a Day  (View)
  • Exploration of Systems  (View)
  • Note Cards  (View)
  • Student Background Information  (View)
  • Student Background Reading Guide  (View)
  • VegHead Vocabulary  (View)
  • Computer with Internet access
Not Specified
  • Pesticide Internet Research  (View)

  • Algicides - Controls algae in lakes, canals, swimming pools, water tanks, and other sites
  • Antimicrobial - Kills microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses)
  • Bio Accumulation - The accumulation of toxins ingested over a long period of time
  • Beneficials - Insects that help farmers control "pests." An example of a beneficial might be the ladybug, a natural enemy of the aphid. Introducing beneficials can help reduce the amount of chemical pesticides needed
  • Defoliants - Cause leaves or other foliage to drop from a plant, usually to facilitate harvest
  • Fungicides - Kills fungi (including blights, mildews, molds, and rusts)
  • Fumigants - Produces gas or vapors intended to destroy pests in buildings or soil
  • Herbicides - Kills weeds and other plants that grow where they are not wanted
  • Miticides - (also called acaricides) Kill mites that feed on plants and animals
  • Organic - A term that means that farming has been done without the use of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers
  • Companion Planting - The practice of planting vegetables near each other that can assist each other to grow well and ward off pests
  • Chemical Pesticide - A term describing a wide range of commercially available sprays that kill insects, fungi, and other organic material in and around crops


Part 1 of Organic Mechanic takes students through the process of identifying pesticides commonly used on food, reviewing the systems of the body that these pesticides effect, and researching the EPA's position on pesticides. Students will construct meaning through hands-on activities and research, drawing their own conclusions based on what they see and read. Activity 1 helps the students access prior knowledge and addresses misconceptions by demonstrating that when they eat an apple, they eat more than just the fruit. Day 2 Activity 1 also accesses prior knowledge on the systems of the body. Each day's activities build on the previous day's lesson, allowing for smooth class transitions. Students work both in small groups (2 or 3) and as individual practitioners, and use the Think-Pair-Share and KWL strategies to generate meaningful discussions about content. Technology supports this lesson through direct online research and the use of streaming video to illustrate the workings of the body systems. Students require use of individual computers connected to the Internet, and Day 2 requires a class computer to display the streaming video.

Day 3, Activity 1 requires students to use the EPA website to research the effects of pesticides on the human body using the Web. You can complete this activity in one of three ways:
1. You may have students go on the Web and read the information on-line.
2. You may use Web-TV to present the information.
3. If you do not have web access for your class, you can download a PDF file and print it, or you can call 1-800-490-9198 and order free print copies of the brochure. Special needs students might benefit from a pre-made chart to guide their research, with key questions to answer. High achievers can use the additional websites listed in the Internet Sites section of this plan to do additional research

1: All About Apples
Daily Challenge Question: What am I eating when I eat an apple?

Set-up Directions:
Have an apple and knife ready for the opening demonstration.
Prepare a set of paper towels, a small tub of water, and an apple for each team. Have dishwashing soap ready for use. Have computers ready with Internet access for Activity 2.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:

Tell the students that they are about to embark on a unit called the Organic Mechanic. Tell them that they will be investigating what things are used to control pests and how those things affect the human body. Ask students: "What are some healthy things to eat?" List those on the board (or overhead). If students don't include fruits and vegetables, lead them there and have them give specific examples. Hold an apple (make sure that it is clean and wax coated - most non-organic apples have a thin layer of wax on them). Ask students: "Do you think the apple is healthy?" Have students cite benefits that an apple offers their body. Ask students: "Do you think apples might actually be bad for you?"

Record ideas for how an apple might actually be unhealthy. With the edge of a sharp knife, gently scrape the wax covering from an area of the apple. Show students the wax, and mention that the apple has some hidden things that they might be ingesting along with the vitamins and minerals.

Activity 1 - There's A Coat on my Food!?
This activity is designed to introduce students to the fact
that the foods we eat can be covered in things we might not
want. Distribute an apple to each heterogeneous team of students
(no larger than 3 people in a team) and have them record
the things they see on their apples. Distribute paper
towels and small tubs of water to the tables. Ask students
to start by just using the water to rise off the apple to
see which of the "pesticides" they can remove. Have teams
discuss and record their findings. For students who are
having difficulty, point out that they can observe the
water and feel the skin of the apple for changes in its
texture. When teams have completed this task, add a few (three or
four) drops of soap to the water. Ask students to use the
soapy water to see if they are able to remove more of the
items that cover their apples. Finally, have students use the paper towels to rub the apples to see if they can get all of the pesticides off. Again, have students record their findings. Orally review
with students what they found. If students want, allow them
to eat the apples

Activity 2 - An Internet Apple a Day

Have students sign on to and complete the Apple A Day activity. As a follow up to the first activity, this shows students just how many pesticides they will be getting into their bodies if they did eat an apple a day. This activity will familiarize the students with some of the names of the pesticides. For each trial, the students make on this interactive web activity,
they will be presented with the following:
a) A list of the different pesticides they were exposed to 
b) A way to click and find out more about the specific
pesticides they were exposed to
c) A way to click and see what health effects the
pesticides might have on humans
d) A graph showing how many days they were exposed to
Distribute the Apple A Day Worksheet. After students have completed this activity, bring them back together to share their findings. Each student will have different results. Have students compare their results. You may also want to have students make a class list of pesticides and their health effects. Distribute the Student Background Information Sheet and the Student Background Reading Guide. Have students read the Information Sheet and complete the Reading Guide for homework

Wrap Up:
Before students leave, mention that tomorrow they will explore the systems of the human body that are affected by pesticides. Have them think about the food that they eat tonight and what pesticides might be used in it
2: Pesticides and You
Daily Challenge Question: How might pesticides affect how my body works?

Set-up Directions:
Have a computer with class projection capability ready to show the Brainpop clips. (Refer to note in Technology Resources sections about accessing Brainpop.)Have computers ready with Internet access for Activity 4

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
Quickly review the Student Background Reading Guide for Organic Mechanics from the previous night. Ask students to share what they thought about what pesticides might have been used on the food they ate last night.

Activity 1 - But My Body's Not a Bug!
This activity is designed to have students use the Internet
and the provided background information sheet to further
their understanding of what current information exists on
pesticides and their effect on human health.
Hand out the Exploration of the Systems of the Human Body
sheet. Have the Brainpop movie on the Digestive System
ready to play. Cue the movie to start at the point where
the word "digestion" appears on the screen
Viewing Activities
What will your students be responsible for while viewing this piece of multi-media or video?
Say to students, "We are going to watch a few
segments about systems of the body that
pesticides could affect. You will need to record
the answers to the questions on your sheet as we
watch the videos. The first clip deals with
questions 1 and 2."
Play the Digestive System clip. Pause when the
esophagus comes on the screen (after the teeth).
Discuss what students recorded about questions 1
and 2.
Direct students to answer question 3 next. Click
Play and continue the clip. Pause when it moves
to the intestines. Discuss what students recorded
about question 3.
Load the Nervous System Brainpop video. Direct
students to answer question 4. Play the video.
Pause when the "brain" is introduced. Discuss
what students recorded about question 4.
Load the Immune System Brainpop video. Direct
students to answer question 5. Play the video.
Pause after the image of the body. Discuss what
students recorded about question 5.
Direct students to answer question 6 next. Play
the video. Pause after the description of
pathogens. Discuss what students recorded about
question 6.
Direct students to answer question 7 next. Play
the video. Pause at the image of Tim in bed.
Discuss what students recorded about question 7
Post Viewing Activities
How will students utilize the information they gathered while viewing the multi-media or video?

After students have finished watching the movies,
have them use Think-Pair-Share to answer the
following question:
How might pesticides affect the body systems we
have looked at?

At the end of the discussion ask students to write a
summary of the information they found. You might want
students to use note cards (this information can be used as
reference material to assist during the final activity) as
a method for summaries

Activity 2 - Pesticide Internet Research
Distribute the Pesticide Internet Research sheet and have
students begin using the Web to collect information on the
use of pesticides. When they have completed their sheet,
hand out the Veg Head Vocabulary sheet. This activity is
designed to help students review vocabulary. You have been
provided with the vocabulary and this is a good time to
review the basic terms with students. Some of the terms are
common ones that students should have already come in
contact with, while other terms will need to be explained
further. When you think students are ready, distribute the
crossword puzzle and have students complete this on their
own in class or for homework

Wrap Up:
Explain to students that they now know a lot about pesticides and the systems of the body they can affect. Mention that tomorrow they will find out what the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, has to say about pesticides.
3: Problems with Pesticides
Daily Challenge Question: What current information exists on the use of pesticides and their effects on human health?

Set-up Directions:
Have computers ready with Internet access for class use

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
Quickly review the Veg Head Vocabulary sheet from the previous night. Remind students that for their assessment at the end of the day, they should use these terms when appropriate.

Activity 1 - EPA? What Do They Say?
Now that students have done some background research and sharing of information about pesticides and their effects on the human body, students need to understand why this issue is especially important to children. The Environmental Protection Agency has a wonderful Web site at which has a number of pages students can use. The Web site is broken down into the following categories: How the government regulates pesticides; What the pesticide residue limits are on food: Why children are especially sensitive to pesticides; What "integrated pest management" means; What "organically grown" means; Types of pesticides on foods; Health problems pesticides may pose; Healthy, sensible food practices. Each area of this site is relatively short, so student groups can be assigned more than one topic per person. The goal of this activity is to have students begin to gather information they think is important. Have students begin researching the information on the Web. (If you do not have a computer for each student available or do not have Web access, refer to the start of the Procedures section for alternatives.) Distribute note cards to students. A template for the note cards has been provided. Tell students that they will have some time (I usually limit it to about 20 - 25 minutes) to explore and research on this site. Have students read the information presented and record what they think are the important points. Tell students that the note cards are going to be used for a presentation at the completion of the second part of the lesson. Have them use their note cards to complete an outline of their presentation for assessment

Wrap Up:
Tell students that they have completed the first half of the Organic Mechanic lesson. Ask them to make a KWL chart at this time. Make sure the W column focuses on what they still want to learn from the second half of the lesson

Enrichment Options
Community Connection
* School/Outside Community Connection:
-Have students hold a Pesticide Awareness presentation at the school. Invite parents, area farmers, and grocery store executives to participate.
-Create a brochure detailing what pesticides are commonly used on food.
-Write a letter to the state legislature encouraging further subsidies for organic farmers in Maryland

Field Experiences
Have students visit one of the many organic farms located in Maryland and Pennsylvania. One such farm can be located at Also, there is a farm in Southern Pennsylvania named Spoutwood Farms. Have a farmer visit to discuss with the students the difficulties of being a farmer

Cross-Curricular Extensions

* Science
Have students complete a scientific investigation comparing plants grown with and without pesticides Have a chemist from EPA or Department of Agriculture come in to speak with students about testing procedures. Have students create a time line showing the development of pesticides in the United States.
* Mathematics
Have students calculate the number of tons of pesticides used each year by different countries.
* Social Studies
Have students create color coded maps showing countries that use different pesticides. Have students write to the embassies of countries still using DDT and other pesticides that have been banned in the United States.
* Language Arts
Have students write biographies of the people who worked and are currently working on pesticide issues.
* Technology
Have students design Web pages showing and explaining their findings and thoughts on this issue. Have students create their own web searches that focus on one or more areas covered.

* Economics
Have students investigate the costs of newer pesticides as they compare with those of older, sometimes banned pesticides. The older pesticides are still in use in many countries. Have students write a report on why this is and what the United States government might do (or is doing) to eliminate the use of banned pesticides. Remind them that we import fruits and vegetables from other countries

Stage 4
Teacher Reflection

As a reflective practitioner, note how this lesson could be adjusted after its initial implementation. How successful were the students? What did the assessment demonstrate about the students' learning?  What skills do the students need to revisit?  What instructional strategies worked and what made them successful?  What will you change the next time you use this lesson?  Why?

Author: Doug Fireside and Felicity Ross
Modified by: Mike Steele
Program: EnviroHealthLink