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A Breath of Fresh Air

Theme: 
Air
Grade: 
9, 10
Essential questions
What exactly is air, and why is it so important to us?
What is air pollution, and why is it such a pressing environmental problem?
What is air quality, and how is it monitored?
What factors influence indoor and outdoor air quality?
What are some ways that air pollution challenges can be addressed locally and globally?
How do our regular, daily actions impact air quality?
How can we increase awareness of the impact common behaviors have on air quality?
How can we improve air quality on our campus with plants?
How can we effectively execute a plan for a living wall on campus?
How has the living wall we created impacted our school community?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: 101 Fundamentals: Air (Estimated time needed: Two 50-minute class periods)
In this lesson, students take on the roles of learner and teacher as they work in teams to first learn and then teach their classmates about outdoor and indoor air quality. By learning as a group and then teaching others what they’ve learned, students are challenged to immerse themselves in information about one of the most pressing environmental issues we face today, to think critically about what societies are doing and what each of us can do personally to address that issue, and then to serve as leaders who inform and inspire their peers to act.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Picturing Pollution (Estimated time needed: One 55-minute session plus additional time for launching a campaign, if possible)
In this lesson, students participate in a group activity designed to broaden their awareness of the impact their daily actions have on the air around them. Through a powerful visual activity, students gain perspective on how normal, daily activities can decrease air quality. Then they work together to come up with a public service slogan or design a broader public service campaign that will help spread awareness on the issue. Students then look for ways to get their message out to the broader community.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: A Living Wall (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions plus some optional homework time)
In this lesson, students explore one solution for boosting air quality on campus—a living wall. They learn about the purpose, function, and countless varieties of living, or green, walls. They also acquire some strategies for building a living wall. Then they work in groups to create a design for a living wall that could improve air quality on campus. Keeping in mind various stakeholders and some practical considerations, they consider how best to pitch the design to school administrators. The lesson concludes with the class selecting a design that, pending approval from school administrators, they will implement during the next lesson.

Lesson 4: Eco-Action: Hang That Garden! (Estimated time needed: 55 minutes, but varies greatly depending upon individual circumstances)
In this lesson, students implement one or more ideas they developed in the previous lesson, Lesson 3: A Living Wall, for adding a living wall (of plants) to campus. Students work in groups to accomplish the task and to get the community involved in helping to execute the plan and to celebrate a new "hanging garden."

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