Teaching Resources - Bones and Environmental Health

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Environmental contaminants leave a record on hard tissues, such as the tobacco stains on these teeth. Smithsonian photo.

Environmental contaminants leave a record on hard tissues, such as the tobacco stains on these teeth. Smithsonian photo.

STEM Subject: Bones and Environmental Health

National Middle School Standards Life Science, Physical ScienceSocial Studies 

Key Terms: physical anthropology, archaeology, skeletal remains, cranium, contaminant, pollution, environmental health 

Key Concepts:  

  • Skull analysis for age, sex, ancestry, and health 
  • Human skeletal development 
  • Organic vs. inorganic environmental contaminants
  • Contaminant impacts on bones  
  • Technology used by bio-archaeologists 

Resource Types:


Webcast (video) and Podcast (audio) Shows 

Printable Lessons

Click-through Activities Online activities that students can complete independently on classroom computers or at home

Science Literacy Resources Reading selections to boost science literacy

Middle School Level

High School Level 

Gifted Readers




The Bones and Environmental Health teaching resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations:

MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • MS-LS1-3 Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
  • MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms. 

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

MS-PS1 Matter and its Interactions

  • MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
  • MS-PS1-3 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.


The Bones and Environmental Health resources align with the following Social Studies standards listed below that integrate anthropology concepts with anthropology skills. 

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • Studying the past makes it possible for us to understand the human story across time. 
  • Knowledge and understanding of the past enable us to analyze the causes and consequences of events and developments, and to place these in the context of the institutions, values and beliefs of the periods in which they took place. 
  • Knowing how to read, reconstruct and interpret the past allows us to answer questions such as: How do we learn about the past? How can we evaluate the usefulness and degree of reliability of different historical sources?

People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world.  
  • During their studies, learners develop an understanding of spatial perspectives, and examine changes in the relationship between peoples, places and environments.