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Poison Ivy

Taking the Itch Out of the Rash


Author(s)

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 Areas

Scientific method

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted, Journal Article

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Botany / Plant Science  |   Science (General)  |   Toxicology  |  


Date Posted

4/7/2011

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