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Current Time and Temperature at Palmer Station
Current time and temperature at Palmer Station


Headline: Learning Activities

Head: The Dirty Dozen

The subject of this scientific investigation is the transport and fate of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The scientists suggest that the physical chemistry of POPs plus the seasonal change in the sea ice causes the entry of POPs into the food web of the Antarctic coastal waters.

POPs have been called "hand-me-down poisons that threaten wildlife and people" (World Wildlife Fund). The United Nations Environment Programme lists twelve of them as "The Dirty Dozen." They are serious environmental problems that have world-wide effects. So, it is appropriate that learners investigate the topic more fully. These investigations are examples of the following National Science Education Standards: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Earth Science, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives, and the History and Nature of Science. Learners who are preparing for the GED tests might be interested to know that these standards are the organizing topics of the GED Science Exam.

A place to start will be the information about the POPs team in Antarctica:

Another excellent resource is the PBS Frontline Report, "Fooling with Nature–are man-made chemicals in the environment hazardous to humans?" This website contains resources, a special report, and an online quiz. There is also an excellent article about the challenges in science reporting and the problems in reporting bad science.

Here are some ideas for learning activities:

1. Suggest that learners do some research on an individual persistent organic pollutant.

Possible topics for research about each POP are

  • Chemical Characteristics
  • Production and Use
  • Exposure and Effects
  • Alternatives


  • This graphic organizer provides structure for learners to summarize the information on the fact sheets. This chart is in PDF format.


General Web Resources

For more information, here is the list of websites about POPs: