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The Air We Breathe

Theme: 
Air
Grade: 
7, 8
Essential questions
What is air quality, and how does it relate to air pollution?
What exactly is in the air we breathe?
What are some health effects of air pollution?
Why is it important for governments to track data about air quality?
What is the air quality like in my home?
What are we doing right at home to improve air quality?
What can we do to eliminate sources of indoor air pollutants at home?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: Air Quality and Health (Estimated time needed: One 60-minute session)
In this lesson, students learn about health effects associated with six primary air pollutants. They begin by discussing air pollutants, their sources, and their effects on human health. Students then analyze an information worksheet about six common air pollutants (which they can save for later reference) and answer a few questions to synthesize their understanding. Students then apply what they’ve learned by working in teams to analyze a case study and determine which air pollutant caused the described health symptoms. Finally, students propose some preventive actions that could be taken to avoid future instances of the given health problems.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Air Quality in My Neighborhood (Estimated time needed: Session 1: 5 minutes; homework time; Session 2: 40 minutes)
This lesson encourages students to explore the information on air quality for their town or neighborhood. Students visit a website and analyze data on the levels of key air pollutants, as well as environmental factors that influence air pollution. They then think critically about the information they’ve collected. This activity works well when done by the whole class or small groups or by individuals as a homework assignment. It is also great preparation for the personal air audit.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: Personal Air Audit (Estimated time needed: Two 50-minute sessions, as well as time at home to conduct the personal eco-audit)
In this lesson, students conduct a personal air eco-audit to identify sources of pollutants in their homes. After a thorough at-home investigation, students then brainstorm ways they can improve the air quality in their home. Students are encouraged to work with members of their household to complete this eco-audit if possible, and to engage their support in improving indoor air quality. They are also given time to share ideas and brainstorm with classmates, making this a fun and fruitful communal activity.

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