Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Do Synthetic Soccer Fields Cause Cancer?

Subject Area

Digital Literacy and Computer Science




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.

    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): 8


    Assess the validity and identify the purpose of digital content.

    Unpacked Content



    • validity


    Students know:
    • not all information shared is valid; some information is skewed to sway readers' opinions.


    Students are able to:
    • research information to confirm whether the given information is true and unbiased.


    Students understand that:
    • individuals and/or groups can manipulate information to meet an agenda.
    • it is important to verify information.
    Science (2015) Grade(s): 8


    Construct explanations based on evidence from investigations to differentiate among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.

    Unpacked Content



    • Molecule
    • Atom
    • Compound
    • Element
    • Mixture
    • Intermingled
    • Component
    • Physical means
    • Properties
    • Solution
    • Homogeneous
    • Solute
    • Solvent
    • Dissolve
    • Analyze
    • Synthetic
    • Natural resources
    • Society


    Students know:
    • A molecule is formed when two or more atoms join together chemically.
    • A compound is a molecule that contains at least two different elements.
    • All compounds are molecules but not all molecules are compounds.
    • A mixture consists of two or more different elements and/or compounds physically intermingled.
    • A mixture can be separated into its components by physical means, and often retains many of the properties of its components.
    • A solution is a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances. A solution may exist in any phase.
    • A solution consists of a solute and a solvent. The solute is the substance that is dissolved in the solvent.
    • Synthetic materials are made by humans.
    • Synthetic materials can be derived from natural resources through chemical processes.
    • The effects of the production and use of synthetic materials have impacts on society.


    Students are able to:
    • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the differences among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Identify and use multiple valid and reliable sources of evidence to construct an explanation differentiating among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation of differences among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Identify and describe the phenomenon under investigation, which includes the differences among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Identify and describe the purpose of the investigation, which includes providing evidence of differences among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Collect and record data, according to the given investigation plan.
    • Evaluate the data to determine the differences between compounds, mixtures, and solutions.
    • Obtain information about synthetic materials from published, grade-level appropriate material from multiple sources.
    • Determine and describe whether the gathered information is relevant.
    • Use information to illustrate how synthetic materials are derived from natural resources.
    • Use information to illustrate how synthetic materials impact society.


    Students understand that:
    • Compounds, mixtures, and solutions can be differentiated from one another based on characteristics.
    • Synthetic materials come from natural resources.
    • Synthetic materials have an impact on society.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions; Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts



    Learning Objectives

    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. 

    Activity Details

    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

    Assessment Strategies

    Completion of the Venn Diagram.

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

    Variation Tips

    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.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / 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)


    Digital Tools / Resources