Parents and Educators: find resources for at-home and distance learning

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What's Up?

Theme: 
Air
Grade: 
5, 6
Essential questions
What is air?
Why all the fuss about carbon dioxide?
What would happen if the gases in our atmosphere got out of balance?
What is the greenhouse effect, and what are greenhouse gases?
How are the greenhouse gases contributing to changing global temperatures?
How are human activities influencing climate change?
What actions can we take to address climate concerns?
How can I tell whether our local air is polluted?
What actions can I take when our air is unsafe?
What can I do to reduce my contribution to air pollution?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: Air Is a Mixture (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore the fact that air is a mixture of gases. During the first session, they identify the main gases within air and represent the proportions in which they occur in the atmosphere. During the second session, they demonstrate that we are all part of a system in which atmospheric gases and living organisms play interconnected roles in maintaining a balance that is necessary for maintaining life on the planet. At the end of the lesson, students reflect on the importance of protecting air and the balance of nature.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Greenhouse Gases (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students analyze how changes to the global carbon cycle are impacting Earth's atmosphere and climate. In the first session, they conduct an experiment to identify the presence of carbon dioxide. Then they study how vital this gas is to life on Earth. In the second session, students investigate the greenhouse effect and learn about other greenhouse gases and Earth's energy budget. They conduct a kinesthetic activity to simulate the greenhouse effect in a memorable way. Then students apply what they've learned by analyzing how human activities have contributed to atmospheric changes and by brainstorming actions they can take to help address the problem.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: Air Quality Index (Estimated time needed: One 50-minute session)
In this lesson, students learn that in some parts of the world, people hear air quality alerts and warnings regularly. The problem is getting worse as the human population increases, making air quality a significant global issue. Students examine how an air quality index (AQI) is one way governments monitor and communicate with the public about air pollution and its potential health effects. Then students conduct a quick walk-through eco-audit of their classroom to see if there are changes they can make to improve the air quality within their immediate environment. Students reflect upon how their actions (even in a community with consistently good air quality) can have an impact on the entire atmosphere, and then they brainstorm things they can do personally and as a class to help alleviate air pollution. The ideas on the Extend tab offer multiple strategies students can use to implement their ideas and take them into the community to spread awareness and encourage further change.

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