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Poison Ivy

Taking the Itch Out of the Rash



Author:

Rosemary H. Ford
Biology Department
Washington College
rford2@washcoll.edu

Abstract:

A longstanding belief that has it roots in Native American folklore is that the crushed leaves of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) relieve the skin's allergic reaction to the toxin of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). This case was developed for an introductory majors or non-majors biology or plant class. It first examines students' conceptions about the rash of poison ivy, what in the plant causes the rash, and how the body responds to the toxin. Then students in small groups plan an experiment using the scientific method to test the ability of jewelweed to reduce the reaction. Following a comparison of experimental designs from different groups, data from a scientific paper is presented for interpretation and analysis. An important outcome of this case is that students recognize the need for evaluating myths and misconceptions using scientific evidence.

Objectives:
  • Analyze information for the purposes of developing and evaluating hypotheses, making predictions, designing experiments, interpreting data, and drawing conclusions.
  • Increase knowledge about the poison ivy plant and the body’s response to exposure to the plant.
Keywords: Poison ivy; Toxicodendron radicans; urushiol; jewelweed; Impatiens capensis; allergic reaction; contact dermatitis; ethnobotany; natural products; experimental design
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Journal Article
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Botany / Plant Science   Science (General)   Toxicology  
Date Posted: 4/7/2011
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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