SMELTER IN THE CITY: Using the History of an Industry as an Educational Case
A complete module that includes a student-friendly document describing the history of a copper smelter, the community context, and the environmental and health impacts. Many ideas for teachers and students are included.
An Ill Wind Blows: The Wind Rose
Using wind rose data and pollution data from El Paso, students research and determine the effect on prevailing/seasonal winds on air quality. Students learn how to use wind direction data from air monitoring stations to create the wind rose that will illustrate the prevailing winds. Students determine trends. Then students examine monthly pollutant data for carbon monoxide, ozone and others to determine the effect of wind and pollutants on air quality in the border region. Students quickly see that the wind and pollutants from El Paso most often go into Ciudad Juárez, countering a common statement that El Paso's air pollution comes from Ciudad Juárez.
Students read, in cooperative jigsaw groups, Smelter in the City, the Asarco story published on the BAQed website. The document mostly tells the negative environmental impacts of the smelter on the city. To provide balance, Mr. Thomas encourages his students to find published information or stories from people who worked at the smelter and benefitted economically. Then students use a free program, Audacity, to produce high quality Podcasts that explain any aspect of the smelter's history. They listen to NPR Podcasts as a model. They follow a structure where they import royalty free music and break the presentation into sections: introduction, three main points, and "outroduction". Podcasts may be in Spanish or English. For extra credit, students work in pairs to translate podcast to the other language so they are bilingual. Podcasts are posted on Mr. Thomas' webpage: esciencelab.com.