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Curricular Unit: Air Pollution & Air Quality

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Grade Level: 5 (4-6)

Choose From: 6 lessons and 12 activities

Power plant smoke stack
Power plant smoke stack
Copyright © Nick Humphries via Flickr


Air pollution and poor air quality affect human health and the environment. In this unit, students explore the properties of air, and learn about the Air Quality Index (AQI). Students investigate air pollution through activities on visible and invisible air pollutants, and gain an understanding of how engineers develop and use technology to reduce and clean-up air pollution in our atmosphere.

Engineering Connection

Engineers design solutions to prevent, reduce and clean up the air pollution that affects living things and the environment. Environmental engineers must understand the composition of air and the chemical makeup of air pollutants in order to determine how to mitigate air pollution and improve poor air quality.

Unit Schedule

Suggested activity order:

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What's Air Got to Do with It? Properties & Quality

Students are introduced to the concepts of air pollution, air quality, and climate change. The three lesson parts (including the associated activities) focus on the prerequisites for understanding air pollution. First, students use M&M® candies to create pie graphs that express their understanding o...

Got Dirty Air?

Students are introduced to the concepts of air pollution and technologies that engineers have developed to reduce air pollution. They develop an understanding of visible air pollutants with an incomplete combustion demonstration, a "smog in a jar" demonstration, construction of simple particulate ma...

preview of 'Got Dirty Air?' Lesson
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An Introduction to Air Quality Research

Students learn the basics about the structure of the Earth’s atmosphere, the types of pollutants that are present in the atmosphere (primary, secondary, gas-phase compounds, particulate matter), and the importance of air quality research. They are also introduced to some engineering concepts such as...

Air Pollution

Students are introduced to the concept of air quality by investigating the composition, properties, atmospheric layers and everyday importance of air. Through a series of lessons and activities (and numerous handouts and worksheets) they explore the sources and effects of visible and invisible air p...

preview of 'Air Pollution' Unit
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Last modified: October 12, 2020

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