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Everyday Poisons

Source Institutions

    University of Nebraska State Museum

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Everyday Poisons

This reading and writing activity (on pages 2-9) teaches what plant parts should be avoided, how a person can get rid of toxins, symptoms of plant poisoning, and how plants create poisons to repel predators. Excerpts from a video and biography of Fatima Johnson, an anthropologist who studies plants and people in Africa, are available online, and the full versions can be purchased on DVD. An interactive version of the activity, and tips for using this resource, are also online.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • pencils or colored markers
  • cookbooks from home or school library that include recipes for potatoes, apples, lima beans, rhubarb, cherries, cassava (tapioca), avocado, and one that contains the spice nutmeg
  • 8 copies of Poison Plant Recipe Card (on page 6) for each group


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Gardening


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems

Designed specifically for

  • Rural dweller

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • African American

    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group
  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, University of Nebraska State Museum, ©2001

Funding Sources:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • NSF Informal Science Education Program, 9909496


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