It's Our Air - 1-1 What Is Air?

WHAT IS AIR? ACTIVITY

Through a variety of hands-on experiences presented as stations in the classroom, students will discover properties of air, including that air has volume, mass, and pressure; that it is compressible and that it expands when heated. They will also learn about the major molecular components of our atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, argon), the four layers of our atmosphere, and that air contains water vapor.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:
What is air made of?
What are some of the properties of air?
How can we demonstrate those properties when air is invisible?
Is our atmosphere homogenous or does it change with elevation?

TIME NEEDED: one class period

MATERIALS:

VIDEOS:

VIDEOS:

What Is Air? Part I (included)
What Is Air? Part II (included)
Video worksheets (included)

STATION 1:

STATION 1:

Molecule sets
Transparent jar containing 100 marbles or beads
Worksheet (included)

STATION 2:

STATION 2:

Large wide-mouth jar
Dishwashing glove
Worksheet (included)

STATION 3:

STATION 3:

Two empty glass bottles
Balloons
Container of hot water
Container of ice water
Worksheet (included)

STATION 4:

STATION 4:

Large wide-mouth glass jar
Water balloons
Tea candles
Matches
Metal tongs
Worksheet (included)

STATION 5(A):

STATION 5(A):

Large wide-mouth jar
Hot water
Small plate
Gallon freezer bag
Ice cubes
Worksheet (included)

STATION 5(B):

STATION 5(B):

Two thermometers
Fan
Small amount of gauze
Water
Rubber band
Sling psychrometer (optional)
Worksheet (included)

CLASSWORK OR HOMEWORK:

CLASSWORK OR HOMEWORK:

Data sheet (included)
Graph paper (included)

TOPICS: properties of air, components of air, layers of the atmosphere, hydrologic cycle.

TYPES: hands-on demonstration, graphing

NC ESSENTIAL STANDARDS for Earth/Environmental Science:
EEn.2.3.1 Explain how water is an energy agent (currents and heat transfer).
EEn.2.5.1. Summarize the structure and composition of our atmosphere.
EEn.2.5.5 Explain how human activities affect air quality

DOWNLOAD PART I VIDEO FILE

DOWNLOAD PART II VIDEO FILE

WHAT IS AIR? VIDEO

Through a two-part video packed with demonstrations and animation, students will discover properties of air, including that air has volume, mass, and pressure; that it is flows, and that it expands when heated. They will also learn about the major molecular components of our atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, argon), the four layers of our atmosphere, and that air contains water vapor.

Video downloads are able to display subtitles. We recommend using VLC media player for optimal playback of subtitles.


WHAT IS AIR? - TEACHER TO TEACHER TIPS

The quick video below has tips for doing this activity from Mark Townley, an award-winning, North Carolina high school teacher. Mark helped develop It’s Our Air and has used each of these activities with his students.


 

BACK TO CURRICULUM PAGE

OTHER MODULE 1 (AIR POLLUTANTS & THEIR SOURCES) ACTIVITIES AND VIDEOS

1-1 What Is Air? (this activity)

1-2 Combustion and Combustion Equations

1-3 Parts Per Million

1-4 The Criteria Pollutants and a Closer Look at Ozone

1-5 NC & Local Sources of Air Pollution

1-6 Making and Using Ozone Indicators

1-7 Sampling Particulate Matter