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Clean Air Guardians

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Essential questions
What is air pollution?
Why is it important that I breathe in clean, fresh air?
How can I use my breath to enhance my health?
How can I use my sense of smell to understand my environment better?
What is air pollution?
How do I know if there is air pollution in my area?
What kinds of things do I do that contribute to air pollution?
What can I do to reduce my contributions to air pollution?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: Breathe In, Breathe Out! (Estimated time needed: 50 minutes)
In this lesson, students watch a short video to learn the basic components of the respiratory system. Then they use what they've learned to complete a puzzle. Next, students participate in a guided breathing exercise that allows them to feel their respiratory system in action as well as gives them a tool to lessen anxiety and promote relaxation. Finally, students discuss how important it is for us all to protect the quality of the air we breathe because we—and many other living creatures—rely upon fresh air to survive.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: My Nose Knows (Estimated time needed: 50 minutes)
In this lesson, students learn about their powerful sense of smell. First, they listen to a story about a boy named Robert who dreamed that aliens were trying to rob humans of their noses. As Robert explores the meaning of his dream, his friends help him understand the value of our noses and our sense of smell. Students participate in the story by smelling scents that are mentioned at key points in the story. After the story, students take a moment to apply what they have learned by classifying odors as pleasant, unpleasant, or danger-alerting. Finally, students synthesize what they have learned as they discuss the importance and usefulness of their sense of smell and how it can help protect them from unhealthy environmental conditions.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: My Polluted City (Estimated time needed: Two 50-minute sessions plus time for at-home work)
In this lesson, students listen to a story about a girl whose city officials have just declared an air quality emergency and cancelled school. Through the story, students learn that air pollution is not always visible to the naked eye but that it can have harmful health effects nevertheless. They also witness an example of personal responsibility and advocacy as the story’s heroine becomes a “clean air guardian” to help address the problem of air pollution in her city. Students reflect on how their own actions might be contributing to air pollution, and they brainstorm ways they can lessen their negative impact. Then they fashion a simple device from a paper plate in order to get a general idea of the air quality in their area. After one week, they work in teams to examine their devices and analyze the results. Finally, students receive blue bracelets to certify their induction into the realm of clean air guardians!

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