Air Quality Resources for Teachers:

Air - Is It Really There?

4th-6th Grade

This activity is comprised of five different demos that utilize simple materials in order to demonstrate the physical properties of air. Demo One shows students that air takes up space using a paper bag for Part A and a balloon and empty soda bottle for Part B. Demo Two utilizes the balancing of equally-inflated balloons on a meter stick to convey that air has mass. Demo 3 simply requires a fan in order to demonstrate the movement of air. Demo 4 has four parts, each using basic classroom materials in order to show students that air exerts pressure (such as a glass with a dry tissue inside that does not get wet when submerged in a bowl of water upside down). Demo 5 gives students a clear visual of how air does work using a medium-sized sandwich bag and textbooks. These simple visuals nicely convey the properties of air, which can lead to a discussion about air quality issues. sson05_activity2.xml

Air Pollution in the Pacific Northwest

6th-8th Grade

This activity focuses on sources of air pollution, specifically nitrogen oxide, and the ways in which environmental engineers measure and attempt to control environmental pollution from emissions. Using the provided worksheets and Microsoft Excel (clear directions are also provided for the Excel assignment), students will be able to estimate the concentrations of nitrogen oxide from NASA satellite images and the WSU forecast model AIRPACT. This assignment incorporates many aspects of air quality (latitude and longitude, coordinates, scientific notation, quantifying units, etc.) in an interesting way, particularly because of its use of real data. wsu_air_pollution_activity.xml

Air Pressure

This activity is a nice introduction to air pressure. Students learn about how air pressure is always exerted upon them, but the pressure itself changes at different sea levels. They are introduced to the unit Pascal, the equation for calculating pressure and how to use it, and predicting pressures at different altitudes based on a graph. The graph, worksheet, and answer sheet are provided, along with Activity Extensions and Activity Scaling ideas. airplanes_lesson01_activity2.xml

A Merry-Go-Round for Dirty Air

4th-6th Grade

This activity utilizes a simple hands-on activity to demonstrate how cyclones can work to clean industrial air pollution. It requires a small paper cup, petroleum jelly, a teaspoon of black pepper, a pen or pencil, and a paper towel for each student participating. Industrial pollutants are acknowledged and a diagram of how a cyclone system cleans the surrounding air is provided. sson10_activity3.xml

Recipe for Air

4th-6th Grade

This activity introduces air composition in a hands-on manner using M&Ms on pie charts. Each gas is represented with a differently-colored M&M, thus providing a visual for students to better understand the percentages of different gases in the air. Comparisons of atmospheric layers are also discussed. A worksheet is provided for students to fill out the gases and their percentages. The provided suggestions for Activity Extensions can further emphasize this lesson and Activity Scaling can make this lesson more suitable for different grades. sson01_activity1.xml

Heat Transfer: From Hot to Not

10th-12th Grade

This lesson focuses on specific heat capacity, heat of reaction and heat transfer, along with endothermic and exothermic reactions. Heat transfer is examined through a “Counting Calories” Activity, which entails the students manufacturing their own calorimeters (this requires some basic materials and KCL) and the “Hot Potato, Cold Foil” Activity, which examines different materials and their heat capacities (this requires a calorimeter, about 75 g of aluminum, about 75 g of copper, and other basic materials). The “Hot Potato, Cold Foil” activity builds upon the “Counting Calories” activity, as it requires a calorimeter. n01.xml

Building a Barometer/ Understanding Weather

6th-8th Grade

This activity utilizes simple materials (such as an empty plastic ketchup bottle, a drinking glass, and the provided “Barometer Analysis Worksheet”) in order for students to understand the correlation between air pressure changes and changes in weather. The construction of a barometer gets students thinking about weather, air masses, temperature changes, and weather predictions. ather_lesson02_activity1.xml

Raceway Potential to Kinetic

5th-7th Grade

This activity requires simple materials, likely found around the classroom, in order to get students thinking about kinetic and potential energy. By rolling marbles down a U-shaped track, students can identify the locations of the marbles having the highest levels of potential energy and kinetic energy. Some terms that might be defined from this activity include work, force, distance, gravity and acceleration. ways.html

Fruity Electricity

5th-7th Grade

This activity is centered on the concept of a battery, which, by using materials of citrus fruit, a copper screw, a zinc screw, and holiday lights, students can construct themselves. Students can find the pH of the fruit using pH strips and the voltage and the current with the use of a multimeter. This activity can be performed with other fruits or vegetables to compare their capabilities of battery performance. uity.html

Dangerous Air

4th-6th Grade

This lesson demonstrates how air pollution is not stationary and can affect the entire globe. The activity focuses on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant radiation disaster. By marking off specific location points (provided) on a map (provided), students can visualize the pollution’s path of travel over time. These observations can focus on air pollution, but can expand into a discussion about nuclear power plants, water supply, health effects, weather, etc. There is a reading about the Chernobyl blast provided. sson05_activity2.xml

Sensing Air Pollution

5th-12th Grade

This lesson discusses volatile organic compounds (VOCs), their sources, their health effects, and the ways in which they are measured. Through the activity, students are able to build a device on a breadboard which can measure the levels of VOCs emitted from everyday products. Students will understand the connections within a breadboard, the terminals of the breadboard, and products that emit VOCs. The VOC sensor on the breadboard will change multimeter voltage readings which students will record and draw conclusions from. Worksheets are included for different grade levels (Elementary/Middle and High School). While the materials are more expensive than for other activities, this lesson encompasses many different topics and can be expanded into more challenging learning material (such as Kirchoff's Voltage Law and Ohm’s Law). sson09_activity3.xml

Air Quality Student page:

Air Quality Glossary:

Air Quality Links:

AirNow Resource page North American Environmental Education Activities Air Climate Project Air Information Resources for Educators-A.I.R.E.

Additional Air Quality Data Resources:

Viewing air quality in your State Viewing air quality in a State or National Park Air Resource Information System- ARIS