Activity - Lessons from Labels
E&E IPM Standard: 10 B, 10C, 12A, 12C
Skills: Critical thinking, discussion, presentation,
To teach about decision-making in pest management, many student activities are possible. Students can choose pest management situations they see in and around their own homes. Following the IPM steps and tactics, they can devise a strategy that includes the use of one or more pesticides. But which ones? Using actual labels from household chemical products, information charts on pesticides and web research, students can lead discussions or write research reports. This activity generates critical thinking and interesting discussions. Students learn that, in the end, they still have to make their own INFORMED decisions and there is no "one" answer.
1. Understand that pesticides are all different.
2. Learn what some of the key active ingredients are in pesticides
3. Understand factors in reducing risk of toxicity and exposure to themselves.
4. Learn decision-making skills needed in pest management decisions
Teacher: Read background section on chemical use.
1. Present your choice of background information on pesticides &
Discuss and answer student questions. Review steps and tactics of IPM.
2. Then pose a scenario to the students, such as
"There are "bugs" on your mom's roses. She knows you have taken an IPM unit
in school and asks you to help figure out what she should do about the bugs."
3. Ask students what IPM steps they would take to "solve" the problem.
4. Give students (or groups) some different pesticide options to discuss
& choose between.
Use actual products available (unopened) so students can study the labels as they are
presented on the product. Be sure to include a variety of chemical classes, formulations, signal words and spectrum of activity.
5. Provide tools (handouts, websites) for investigating details of product options.
6. After groups research and discuss options, have students present their choices and explain the rationale for those choices.
- Labels of pesticides as they appear on the product (these can be xeroxed or obtained from the companies that produce the product)
- Preparation via lecture
- Will these products actually control the pest I have? (Am I sure I know what the pest is??! Do I know its life cycle?)
- Efficacy; short or long term control?
- What are the active ingredients?
- What are the relative acute toxicities to humans by signal word? By actual LD 50s?
- What are the risks of exposure due to formulation?
- What precautions do the labels tell you? How, exactly, would you apply the products safely?
If you wish, other issues can be introduced for discussion such as long-term toxicity, persistence in the environment, biomagnification, whether or not the properties of the pesticide make it a potential problem for water contamination and so on.