All Adds Up To Cleaner Air
Show students the cumulative
effect of their actions on air quality
Red, green, blue, and yellow food coloring;
a large clear bowl or jar;
spoon or stick for stirring.
a huge number of potential contributions to air pollution generated
by everyday human activities. These activities may not be immediately
apparent as a source of pollution when you observe from the individual
viewpoint. However, the cumulative effect can be profound. This
activity attempts to simulate the cumulative affect of various air
pollution sources upon the "airshed". Water is used to
simulate mixing which occurs in the air. For purposes today:
Red represents car and truck pollution
Green represents lawn & garden, motor boat, construction
Blue represents consumer products and paint
Yellow represents electrical, industrial, commercial activities
bowl filled with water on table so that all students can see it.
to students that the water represents the air around us and we are
going to look at the many ways in which we pollute the air on the
the students through an average day and what they may do.
goes off, what powers the alarm?
of pollution is this?
Ask a student to drop 1 drop of yellow into the bowl of water.
During each step have a different students add the drop of pollution
to the water to reinforce that their actions have consequences.
go for a shower, ask students how does this add pollution to
- Water heated-
1 drop of yellow
- Soap, shampoo,
deodorant, etc. - 1 drop of blue
- Travel to
- Carpool or
bus- 1 drop of red, or in car without carpooling- 2 drops
- Heating and
electricity- 1 drop of yellow
- Lunch time
- food- 1 drop
1 drop of yellow
day, asking questions like did they grill out for dinner, mow the
lawn, or anything like that.
the students if air pollution stays in one place?
Ask, what moves it?
5. Have a student be the wind by mixing the water
gently with the spoon.
students about other things that they do that they never thought
of before that may pollute the air.
students this example:
Watching a movie
now seems to cause four trips in a vehicle.
the movie store and pick a movie
Watch the movie
the store and drop-off movie
could you do instead, that will cause no pollution or less pollution?"
to students about responsible decision making. Every choice that
we make can have an impact on the air we breathe. Explain to students
that you do not expect them to completely change their lifestyle,
but if we all make ne small change each, think of how much cleaner
and healthier our air would be. Ask students to write down one thing
that they will do for cleaner air.
There are many ways in which this lesson can be
adapted and expanded, including adding to each step of the day,
looking at their after-school activities, and focusing more on the
different types of pollution that are created such as nitrogen dioxide
from vehicles, and particulate matter from grilling.