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Bioaccumulation is being studied more and more. Your students will become familiar with bioaccumulation and its effects as they read and discuss an interesting text lesson, create posters, and complete a worksheet.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

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  • define bioaccumulation
  • identify causes of bioaccumulation
  • describe ways to reduce bioaccumulation
  • explain examples of bioaccumulation


2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.

  • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • HS-LS2-8. Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.
  • HS-LS4-6.

    Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.


  • Student computers
  • Copies of the What is Bioaccumulation? – Definition, Causes ; Examples text lesson
  • Copies of the lesson worksheet
  • Poster boards
  • Markers


  • Begin the lesson by asking your students to explain what it means for something to accumulate. If they cannot think of anything then use snow accumulation during a winter storm as an example of accumulation.
  • Tell your students that all kinds of materials accumulate over time that affects different ecosystems. One such type of accumulation is bioaccumulation that they are about to learn about as they read and discuss the What is Bioaccumulation? – Definition, Causes ; Examples text lesson.
  • Give your students the copies of the text lesson and read it together as a class.

    Pause reading periodically for discussions.

  • Have different students read different paragraphs to increase participation in the lesson.
  • Have the first student start reading from the beginning and then stop after the ‘Bioaccumulation’ section. Ask and discuss:
    • What is bioaccumulation?
    • What types of substances are we concerned with in bioaccumulation?
    • Why are we only concerned with harmful chemicals?
  • Continue reading through the end of the ‘Causes’ section.

    Ask and discuss the following as a class:

    • Where do the chemicals come from that cause bioaccumulation?
    • What are the two ways in which the chemicals accumulate in living organisms?
  • Continue reading through the end of the ‘Examples’ section. Ask and discuss the following as a class:
    • What animals can car emissions accumulate inside of?
    • Why do you have to limit how much fish you eat in a week?
    • What is bioaccumulation?
  • How do pesticides lead to bioaccumulation?
  • Read the ‘Lesson Summary’ to your students and answer any questions they have at this point.

Bioaccumulation Awareness Activity

  • Divide your students into groups of 3 – 4.
  • Instruct each group to get a poster board and a set of markers.
  • Explain to your students that they are going to create bioaccumulation awareness posters.
  • Here are the guidelines for the posters:
    • Draw an example of bioaccumulation
    • Give a brief description of the cause of the example in the drawing
    • Explain the effects of bioaccumulation from the example
    • Give at least 2 suggestions for how to prevent the bioaccumulation from occurring.
  • Have each group present their posters and then hang the posters in the outside hallway.

Bioaccumulation Worksheet

  • Give your students the lesson worksheet to complete individually.
  • Go over the answers to the worksheet together as a class.

Related Lessons

  • What is the Difference Between Bioaccumulation ; Biomagnification
  • What is Biomagnification?: Definition ; Examples

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