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Guidance for Communities Impacted by Contaminants

The research centers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Cincinnati, and University of Pennsylvania developed a three-part learning module in collaboration with their respective community groups and with governmental organizations and industries.

  • Module 1 sets the stage with background descriptions of three sites having significant contaminant exposures to the community members.
  • Module 2 offers guidance on forming community groups and on building respectful relationships.
  • Module 3 provides useful information for governmental agencies and companies on approaches in creating productive engagements and building sustainable relationships.

Within the modules, there are interactive questions to prompt the viewer to make choices and thereby learn from these online experiences. Additionally, to make progress in handling of environmental problems, the university teams also identify several key strategies in this learning program.

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Environmental Information Sources

Education and knowledge are critical elements to empowering people and groups of people. Here are links to some additional sources for environmental information.

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Webinar: Lessons Learned Along the Road to Environmental Clean Up

Lead a workshop in your community using this webinar.

This webinar was designed to assist facilitators and others interested in leading workshops. It provides for a 30-minute familiarization preview, which includes a review of the navigation tools, as well as examples of the different kinds of activities available. These include short histories of three Superfund sites, follow-up questions for discussion, an articulate storyline scenario for making choices, simulating a family‘s experiences with a contaminate in their water supply, and a collection of interviews with community members from the three sites.

Importantly, the Lessons Learned resource includes advice for both government agencies and for companies who are responsible parties. Overall, the insights from this webinar will equip the listeners with the ability to use and disseminate the information to their respective communities. We recommend this webinar as a convenient tool for preparing instructors to lead class discussions and to share this resource with community members.

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Tactile Learning Kits for Teaching Environmental Health

Using LEGO™ bricks as atoms offers tactile approaches to help people learn by visualizing key processes in environmental health sciences. These hands-on models are an inviting way to learn, even for those without a technical background. Because the colors of these model atoms are the standardized chemistry colors, young people learn the correct colors for the elements from the start. Another benefit is that some of the key concepts about molecules can be taught without having to explain the details of electron bonding.

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Educational Tools: Biology Sets

The models for each biology set are designed to teach processes in addition to structure. The student can visualize what these molecules do and what they look like. There are four sets, each with activities booklets.

  • Protein Sets – The models enable the students to build and fold proteins and to perform various cellular functions.
  • DNA/RNA Sets – In this set, the student can explore DNA and RNA nucleotide structure and as well as learn about the different aspects of genetic information.
  • tRNA Sets – This set has all four kits (DNA/RNA, Protein, and tRNA). Using this set, the student can complete protein synthesis.
  • Biotechnology Pack – With this pack, students use the DNA models to tangibly see and explore these basic concepts: restriction enzyme digestion, gel electrophoresis, PCR, DNA sequencing, and CRISPR-Cas9.
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Educational Tools: Molecule Sets

Using a collection of basic LEGO™ bricks and the accompanied teaching materials, educators can teach cross-cutting concepts pertaining to biology, chemistry, and earth science as well as meets the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). There are five sets, appropriate for ages 11 and older.

  • Chemical Reactions Unit — The students are introduced to atoms, molecules, compounds, and mixtures. The colors of LEGO™ bricks as atoms are the standard colors of the elements.
  • Photosynthesis Lesson — To better understand air, the program emphasizes the molecular composition of air. Using LEGO™ bricks as atoms, the students build a model of air as a mixture and show reactions such as combustion.
  • Understanding Air Lesson — To better understand air, the program emphasizes the molecular composition of air. Using LEGO™ bricks as atoms, the students build a model of air as a mixture and show reactions such as combustion.
  • Understanding Oceans Lesson – Here, the students model ocean acidification using LEGO™ bricks as atoms.
  • Additional Reaction Mats – It is possible to experience additional chemical reactions modeled with LEGO™ bricks. The students build the reactants and products using a layout of mat. The mats enable the visualization of the following: Epson salt and ammonia reaction, Iron and oxygen reaction (rusting), Baking soda and vinegar reaction, Trichloroethylene pollution cleanup, Toxic mercury in our environment, Vog (volcanic smog).