ALEX Learning Activity

Do Synthetic Soccer Fields Cause Cancer?

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lisa Rhinehart
System:Pell City
School:Pell City Board Of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1988
Do Synthetic Soccer Fields Cause Cancer?
Digital Tool/Resource:
Exclusive: How Safe is Artificial Turf?/msnbc - YouTube
Web Address – URL:

In this activity, the students will read an article that explores the relationship between synthetic and natural materials. Next, the students will watch a short video clip related to synthetic materials in order to understand the impact these resources can have on society. As they watch the video, the students will assess its validity and purpose by using a graphic organizer.

This activity was created as a result of the DLCS COS Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
3 ) Construct explanations based on evidence from investigations to differentiate among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.

a. Collect and analyze information to illustrate how synthetic materials (e.g., medicine, food additives, alternative fuels, plastics) are derived from natural resources and how they impact society.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.8.3- Differentiate between compounds and mixtures.
SCI.AAS.8.3a- Recognize that synthetic materials are made from natural resources; identify a synthetic material and the natural resource from which it is derived.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 8
R3) Assess the validity and identify the purpose of digital content.

Learning Objectives:

  1. The students will compare synthetic and natural materials using a Venn Diagram.
  2. The students will analyze the impact of synthetic materials on society.
  3. The students will assess the validity and identify the purpose of the digital content. 
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. The teacher will show the students a dandelion, medical gloves, a bounce-ball, and a rubber band. Then ask the class  "Which one of these items do you believe contains "latex?" Wait for students to respond. (all contain latex)


2. Does anyone know where latex comes from?  Wait for students to respond. (rubber trees, the white liquid in dandelion plants contain latex)


3. Then, ask "Which items are natural?" Wait for students to respond. (comes from nature) dandelion

"Which are synthetic?" (Wait for students to respond)

(something that is artificial or made through chemical reactions and/or compounds)


4. Place students in pairs, give each a copy of the article Natural v. Commercial Rubber:  What's the Difference?" and a copy of the Venn Diagram for each student. Students will read the article and record the information.

Article:  Natural v. Commercial Rubber:  What's the Difference?"


Venn Diagram:


5. Next, have the students to brainstorm a list of items that they think are made from rubber and record their suggestions on the board. Then ask the class which items they believe are harmful to society and place and H by their responses. Place an N by those they believe are not harmful.


6. Explain to the class that some synthetic materials could be harmful to society because of the chemical compounds that are used during their transition process. One such item is the "crumb" material that is used in soccer and football fields.


If time allows, poll the class to see how many students play on artificial turf. Student input.


7. Explain the importance of analyzing digital resources carefully in order to prove the validity of their content. 


8. Pass out the analyzing a web page "Test Before You Trust" form prior to playing the video. As the video plays, students will check the appropriate box and respond to each question. Allow time for students to work with a partner at the end of the video to make corrections and discuss each question. 


If this is the first time students have completed this type of activity, then it may be helpful to point out some of the items on the list. In addition, select more on the video link in order to see the date, author, and other important information.


Test Before You Trust


How Safe is Artificial Turf?

9.  Allow time for students to share their answers on the "Test Before you Trust" sheet and ask questions about synthetic materials.


10.  Revisit the board with the harmful and nonharmful student responses in order to see if the students would like to make any changes.

Assessment Strategies:

Completion of the Venn Diagram.

Completion of the "Test Before You Trust" reflection sheet and teacher observation. 

Advanced Preparation:

Collect one dandelion, pair of medical gloves, bounce-ball, and rubber band to be used during class discussion.

Internet Connections


Venn Diagram for each student

Copy of the article for each student

Student validity form "Test Before You Trust" (1 per student)


Variation Tips (optional):

Students could work in pairs to read the article "Natural v. Commercial Rubber:  What's the Difference?" 

If students have access to a device it could be read online.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This activity will assist students with the collection of information for a research project that they will complete at a later date on synthetic and natural materials. It shows them a method for assessing digital content and provides the students with an example of how a natural material can be transformed into a synthetic product that can impact society.


Research other synthetic products link:


  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: