ToxRAP (Toxicology, Risk Assessment and Pollution) is an innovative, hands-on, cross-curricular K-9 curriculum series that utilizes concepts from toxicology and environmental health risk assessment to teach applied science. Students learn to identify a problem, gather information, form a a hypothesis, conduct experiments, make observations, collect and analyze data, draw conclusions and defend their conclusions based on scientific evidence. This is accomplished by teaching students how to apply the ToxRAP Framework to investigations concerning environmental health problems relevant to their lives. This framework is based on the risk assessment/risk management process used by scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations. As students apply the ToxRAP Framework to a variety of situations, they follow the same thought processes and techniques employed by environmental health scientists all over the world. They also develop basic skills in critical thinking, decision making, scientific inquiry, mathematics, language arts and communication.
Air pollution topics that have meaning for children provide the context for understanding how risk assessments are conducted. Emphasis is placed on using age-appropriate examples of situations where children's actions can have a positive impact. The ToxRAP curriculum series comprises three modules and a supplement: Early Elementary/K-3 (The Case of the Green Feathers) -- Spanish-bilingual and all-Spanish versions also available; Intermediate Elementary/3-6 (What is Wrong with the Johnson Family?) -- Spanish-bilingual and all-Spanish versions also available; Middle School/6-9 (Mystery Illness Strikes the Sanchez Household) -- all-Spanish version also available; and a Middle School Supplement/6-9 (The Case of the WTC Dust). The Early Elementary Module explores how natural air contaminants can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions. The Intermediate Elementary Module offers insight into hazards present in the home. The Middle School Module continues to investigate indoor air contaminants, and teaches methods to collect environmental samples, interpret results and learn about exposure and dose. The Middle School Supplement explores the environmental health effects of the World Trade Center tragedy.
The three modules can be taught sequentially or independently of each other, and can be integrated into existing science, math, language arts and health lessons; the supplement should be used following implementation of the Middle School Module. Teaching methods include hands-on scientific experiments modeled after standard data collection techniques used in risk assessment, case studies that draw upon real events, games, interviews and role plays. Each module and the supplement utilize data collected both by students and by real scientists.