Biomagnification Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is biomagnification and what role does it play in the environment? This lesson plan includes a video lesson that thoroughly explains this phenomenon and an activity to highlight a seminal work in the field.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define and identify potential environmental toxicants
  • summarize the process of bioaccumulation
  • outline and analyze the process of biomagnification


1.5 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.


Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.


  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video lesson
  • Assorted photocopied excerpts from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

Key Vocabulary

  • Toxicants
  • Bioaccumulate
  • Biomagnification


  • Begin by asking the class to brainstorm some potential risks of toxins in the environment, giving them about ten minutes to do so.
  • Have students take turns sharing their brainstormed list with the class during a discussion.
  • Play the video lesson Magnification of Toxicants: Persistence, Bioaccumulation & Biological for the class, pausing it at 1:26.
    • Were any of the risks of environmental toxins that were mentioned in the video lesson presented by the students in the initial discussion?
    • The video lesson mentions DDT. What might be some additional examples of environmental toxicants?
  • Play the video lesson again, pausing it this time at 2:22.
    • The video lesson mentioned the changes in birds of prey as a result of exposure to toxins in the environment. What might happen to humans?
    • What are the ways in which animals and humans are being exposed to environmental toxins?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class now.
    • How does our place in the food chain and the process of bioaccumulation add to biomagnification?
    • What can be done to reduce biomagnification?
  • Pass out the worksheet and ask students to work together in pairs to complete it.
  • Review the worksheet with the class as you explain each question and answer in full.

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