It's Our Air - 3-3 Driving Choices and Calculating Car Emissions

CALCULATING CAR EMISSIONS

In North Carolina, vehicles are among the largest sources of air pollution. In this activity, students will use data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to compare the air pollution emitted by different cars, including an all-electric vehicle. They will calculate the emissions that result from charging an electric car in North Carolina, Seattle, and the U.S. (on average). Finally, students will also consider ways to reduce emissions through driving behavior and car maintenance.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:
Do electric vehicles cause air pollution?
How can I reduce air pollution emissions without buying a different car?
If I’m going to buy a car, is a new hybrid or electric vehicle the best choice for reducing emissions?

TIME NEEDED: For AP and honors classes, allow one 90-minute block period for Parts A and B, and half a period for Part C. For academic earth science classes, the activity will take two full block periods.

MATERIALS:

MATERIALS LIST

MATERIALS LIST

Video: Driving Choices (included)
Access to the internet
Access to computers
Worksheets (included)

TOPICS: air pollution reduction strategies, air pollution (vehicle emissions), alternative transportation, electric vehicles

TYPES: critical thinking, data analysis

NC ESSENTIAL STANDARDS for Earth/Environmental Science:

EEn.2.5.5 Explain how human activities affect air quality
EEn.2.8.1 Evaluate alternative energy technologies for use in North Carolina.

DOWNLOAD VIDEO FILE

DRIVING CHOICES & AIR POLLUTION

This video reviews the three major strategies for finding solutions to air pollution: societal and personal choices, regulation, and technology, then explores the impact of personal transportation choices on air pollution. The video features a visit to a high school Electric Vehicle Challenge event, interviews with a race car engineer and driver, a trip on a light rail train, and college students talking about their use of alternative transportation. These virtual field trips provide students with an introduction to how car types, car maintenance, how you drive, and whether you drive or use other forms of transportation can have an impact on air pollution.

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


DRIVING CHOICES & AIR POLLUTION - 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 3 (AIR POLLUTION PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS) ACTIVITIES AND VIDEOS

3-1 Scientific Literacy and Air Quality

3-2 Introduction to Solutions & Home Energy Choices

3-3 Driving Choices & Calculating Car Emissions (this activity)

3-4 Regulations: Clean Air Act & NC Clean Smokestacks Act

3-5 Research and Action