Lead Fishing Tackle Project

Utah State Science Core: 8th grade science Standard II, Objective 3

TALONS Category: Sceince Skills

Objective: Students research the impacts of lead tackle, and investigate the alternatives, to determine whether lead tackle should be banned.


A 2 week project on the environmental impacts of lead, culminating in a persuasive essay about whether or not lead should be allowed for use in sport fishing.


Blair Larsen, Mt Logan Middle School, Logan UT

Grade Level:


Subject Area:

Science Skills

Utah Core Curriculum Standard:

8th grade Core Curriculum

Standard II

Objective 3 a-d

Analyze human influence on the capacity of an environment to sustain living things.

  1. Describe specific examples of how humans have changed the capacity of an environment to support specific life forms (e.g., people create wetlands and nesting boxes that increase the number and range of wood ducks, acid rain damages amphibian eggs and reduces population of frogs, clear cutting forests affects squirrel populations, suburban sprawl reduces mule deer winter range thus decreasing numbers of deer).
  2. Distinguish between inference and evidence in a newspaper or magazine article relating to the effect of humans on the environment.
  3. Infer the potential effects of humans on a specific food web.
  4. Evaluate and present arguments for and against allowing a specific species of plant or animal to become extinct, and relate the argument to the of flow energy in an ecosystem.

Materials Needed:

  • Background information
  • Non-lead tackle
  • Balance
  • Small graduated cylinder
  • Water
  • Calculator
  • Computer with internet access

Time Needed:

Twelve 45 minute classes at most (can be shortened significantly if sections removed)




The following handouts will give you a strong understanding of the issue of lead in the environment.

Also consider visiting the HawkWatch Wildlife Without Lead web pages.

The Lesson


Have Hawkwatch give a program on raptors - adaptations, natural history, threats to species, etc.


In a discussion, further investigate the threats to raptors, in particular, ones caused by human influence. Brainstorm map/concept map of impacts on the board.

[Note from editor: when Blair did this project, she had her students contact a wildlife rehabilitator as a part of their research on threats. This presented the students with some rich, if not impassioned, material about the effects of lead on wildlife.]


Introduce/Expand the problem of lead fishing tackle. Explain how lead sinkers impact wildlife, especially birds.

Hand out the worksheet packet (including background information sheets). Explain the big picture and order of assignments.


If lead is bad, what alternatives are there? Students will investigate possible alternatives through measurements of the density of materials. They will make a graph of the data, comparing lead to other materials.

After looking at lead and it's alternatives, they will weigh the pros and cons of the tackle options and write a persuasive essay on whether lead tackle should be banned in Utah.


Rubrics are included in the worksheet handouts, and should be used by the students to check their work quality as they do their projects.

This question handout evaluates student understanding of the issue and how it fits into other concepts, such as food webs, economics, and human impacts on the environment.



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