This Web module is a problem-based exercise that teaches about mercury in the environment using a fictitious town in Washington state called Quicksilver, a gold mining town in the 1800s. Mercury was used to separate gold from dirt, and this interactive explains the gold mining process, what mercury is, and how damaging it can be to animals and people. The module was created by teachers participating in the Integrated Environmental Health Middle School Project (IEHMSP) in Washington State and New Mexico.
The website's creators recommend students explore the module in the classroom setting and that you dedicate two class days to the project to ensure enough time for students to understand and navigate the module. Part of this understanding will come from considering how public health issues as a whole affect us individually and as a community. This example is one that will open students' eyes to fish contaminated with mercury, a problem we continue to face today. Therefore, this interactive would be a great resource to use in units you do that focus on global interdependence, physical health, and issues in technology.
Once students have launched the Web module, they use a map as their guide to explore the town's history regarding gold mining with mercury. Students pass their computer mouse over items in the pictures to figure out where to go next. When they land on a feature, they read the document and click on a key that unlocks a quiz. They are then instructed to answer a question about what they just read. A correct answer awards them a key and a score with points. Students must answer the questions correctly to move through the module, which is like a treasure hunt for information about the environment and health.
Before assigning the Web module, be sure to closely review the Teacher's Manual. The manual is large but has a wealth of information key to navigating the site and assisting students in understanding environmental health. The manual includes:
- The Student Handout with 10 questions
- The Teacher's Key to the Student Handout
- An introduction to environmental health for students
- A navigation guide
- A guide to the location of key documents
- A key to the pop quizzes
- Complementary lessons in social studies, science, language arts, math, and health and fitness