It's Our Air - Curriculum

The It’s Our Air curriculum covers the science of air quality including the properties of air; air pollutants and their sources; how air pollution is monitored predicted and reported; the problems air pollution causes and possible solutions to air pollution issues. The curriculum is divided into 3 modules with 15 activities and 9 videos, the curriculum offers teachers a variety of ways to teach this complex topic to both academic science classes and advanced classes. Teachers can follow the full teaching plan or just use the activities that cover the topics they want to teach. The activities work together as a whole or stand alone as individual experiences. Even the individual videos can be used alone to illustrate specific concepts. This flexibility was built into the design of the curriculum.

WHAT’S IN THE IOA CURRICULUM

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module 1 - air pollutants and their sources

MODULE 1 SUMMARY

MODULE 1 SUMMARY

7 activities and 4 videos covering the basic science of air quality including: properties of air, combustion, the criteria pollutants, local & regional pollution data, and detecting ozone and particulate matter.

1-1 WHAT IS AIR?

1-1 WHAT IS AIR?

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

Through a video and 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.

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1-2 COMBUSTION & COMBUSTION EQUATIONS

1-2 COMBUSTION & COMBUSTION EQUATIONS

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video introduces to the concept of combustion as a chemical reaction and illustrates how combustion causes the rearrangement of atoms and how air pollution can result when other gases in our atmosphere and substances in fuel are added into the combustion mix. In the activity, students use molecular model sets to become familiar with some simple chemical equations describing combustion and to see how the burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide.

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1-3 PARTS PER MILLION

1-3 PARTS PER MILLION

ACTIVITY

In the activity, students will develop an understanding of the terms parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb) by systematically diluting a solution of food coloring (or milk) and water. They will convert ratios to percentages to ppm to ppb. They will correlate the ratios they’ve created in the classroom to the ratios of various gases in our atmosphere. With the milk and water option, students can also demonstrate the Tyndall Effect.

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1-4 CRITERIA POLLUTANTS & A CLOSER LOOK AT OZONE

1-4 CRITERIA POLLUTANTS & A CLOSER LOOK AT OZONE

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video asks the question, “How do you define air pollution?” then gets definitions from experts; reviews the criteria pollutants (ground-level ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead). In the activity, students will be introduced to the criteria pollutants and will work in groups to make cartoon booklets demonstrating the formation of ground-level ozone and the destruction of stratospheric ozone.

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1-5 NC & LOCAL SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION

1-5 NC & LOCAL SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video introduces the major pollution issues in North Carolina including ground-level ozone, particle pollution, acid deposition, mercury deposition, and nitrogen deposition; visits the North Carolina mountains, piedmont and coastal plain to learn about air pollution issues these regions. In the activity, students will learn the sources of some common air pollutants by making pie charts showing the main sources of PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide for the United States as a whole, their state, and their county.

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1-6 MAKING AND USING OZONE INDICATORS

1-6 MAKING AND USING OZONE INDICATORS

ACTIVITY

In this classroom and outdoor activity, students check for the presence and relative amounts of ozone in the air at their school campususing Schoenbein strips they make with filter paper, cornstarch, and potassium iodide.

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1-7 SAMPLING PARTICULATE MATTER

1-7 SAMPLING PARTICULATE MATTER

ACTIVITY

In this classroom and outdoor activity, students will sample particulate matter around town or campus and compare the results. They will also gather particulate matter from tailpipe emissions and compare different types of vehicles.

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module 2 - predicting air pollution

MODULE 2 SUMMARY

MODULE 2 SUMMARY

3 activities and 1 video exploring the science of predicting air pollution including: the air quality index, developing a model to predict ground-level ozone, and air quality monitoring forecasting.

2-1 WHAT'S AN AIR QUALITY INDEX?

2-1 WHAT'S AN AIR QUALITY INDEX?

ACTIVITY

In this hands-on activity, students will learn how to interpret the Air Quality Index (AQI) and identify seasonal patterns for ozone and particulate matter in their region.

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2-2 MAKING A SIMPLE PREDICTIVE MODEL FOR GROUND-LEVEL OZONE POLLUTION

2-2 MAKING A SIMPLE PREDICTIVE MODEL FOR GROUND-LEVEL OZONE POLLUTION

ACTIVITY

In this hands-on activity, students will use real data from North Carolina to explore the relationship between ground-level ozone pollution and (1) maximum daily temperature, (2) average solar radiation, (3) average daily wind speed, and (4) daliy precipitation. Students will make a simple predictive model based on what they learned from the data.

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2-3 FORECASTING AIR QUALITY

2-3 FORECASTING AIR QUALITY

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video introduces methods used to monitor, predict and report air pollution. In the hands-on activity, students will use real archived weather maps, satellite images, forecast models, and data to put together an ozone forecast for a particular day in Charlotte, North Carolina. They will then check their forecast against the actual data for that day.

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module 3 - air pollution problems and solutions

MODULE 3 SUMMARY

MODULE 3 SUMMARY

5 activities and 4 videos introducing possible solutions to our air quality problems including: scientific research, personal energy and driving choices, technology solutions, energy efficiency, alternative energy, regulations.

3-1 SCIENTIFIC LITERACY AND AIR QUALITY

3-1 SCIENTIFIC LITERACY AND AIR QUALITY

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video takes a more in depth look at the types of scientific research that help us understand problems caused by air pollution. In the scientific literacy activity, students will read and explain articles and scientific papers about the effects of air pollution on human health.

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3-2 INTRODUCTION TO SOLUTIONS & HOME ENERGY CHOICES

3-2 INTRODUCTION TO SOLUTIONS & HOME ENERGY CHOICES

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

Students learn about the strategies we can use to reduce air pollution and explore how their personal choices related to energy usage at home can reduce air pollution and save money. They analyze the effectiveness of different choices.

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3-3 DRIVING CHOICES & CALCULATING CAR EMISSIONS

3-3 DRIVING CHOICES & CALCULATING CAR EMISSIONS

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

A video takes a more in depth look at the choices drivers can make to improve air quality. In the hands-on activity, students use data from EPA Web sites to compare the emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide from several different cars, including an all-electric vehicle.

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3-4 REGULATIONS: CLEAN AIR ACT & NC CLEAN SMOKESTACKS ACT

3-4 REGULATIONS: CLEAN AIR ACT & NC CLEAN SMOKESTACKS ACT

ACTIVITY with VIDEO

In this activity, student groups will evaluate three events that led to the Clean Air Act and choose a them for a marketing campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Act. The video takes a more in depth look at NC Clean Smokestacks Act, its success, and the at improving air quality in North Carolina.

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3-5 RESEARCH AND ACTION

3-5 RESEARCH AND ACTION

ACTIVITY

Students apply their knowledge of air quality to a Community Air Quality Project involving research, stewardship, or education. This activity guide compiles resources and a brief description of ideas for possible projects.

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