PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • determine the necessity to reduce pollutants that can harm the air quality.
  • describe the makeup of air quality reports.
  • recognize the need to report the pollutants in the air we breathe.
  • Crushed colored chalks (separated according to color) on sheets of paper
  • Large glass jar (minimum 64 oz. [ 2 liters] size) with lid
  • Air tight rubber sheet or plastic wrap secured with elastic band
  • Straw
  • Take a Stand/Position graphic organizer (See HandoutOne)
  • Sources for Pollutants (See Handout Two)
  • Projected images of air quality trends or report or print copies fromhttps://www.epa.gov/air-trends
  • Student journals or half sheets of lined paper
  • Poster size or individual copies of the Assessment Rubric
  • Copies of Air Quality Reports from local newspapers, local weather forecast, internet, or U. S. Weather Reports for comparison purposes
  • Sentence strips with pre-written question: Would you like to breathe the contents of the container on a daily basis?
  • Vocabulary List - may include: allergens, air quality, pollutants, individual rights, community responsibility, philanthropy

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) "Air Quality Trends" http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/ 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Tell the students that something exciting will be happening in a few minutes. As quickly as possible create a “cloud of confusion” - use the jar and begin to fill it with the colored chalks. Keep going until you have finished putting in all of the crushed colored chalks. Place the wrap around the opening in the jar; secure it with the elastic (rubber bands). With the straw, make a small hole in the plastic wrap.Place your mouth around the straw and blow into it creating a “cloud of confusion”. Turn to the students, say; “I want each of you to record what just happened? Do not speak out loud or discuss your answers with others. In your journals or on a sheet of paper, describe what you just observed.Allow about 2 minutes.

  2. Call on two or three volunteers to read their descriptions. Thank them for their contributions. Adding: “Now that we have hear from a few of you, I would like to have each of you take a stand”.

  3. Affix the sentence strip: Would you like to breathe the contents of the container on a daily basis? either to the chalkboard or chart paper for learners to see.

  4. Have learners respond using Handout One, Take a Stand/Position Graphic Organizer

  5. Teaching Note: Learners should be familiar with this organizer before the activity.

  6. Allow about two minutes with this activity. It will also serve as an indicator of student participation.

  7. Ask: “Is it your right to breathe clean air? Why or why not? What are the responsibilities of the community to keep the air quality clean?Note their responses on chart paper.

  8. Develop understanding of air quality by listing the following terms on chart paper or the chalk board: smog, global warming, pollutants, and allergens.

  9. Solicit definitions from students. Attempt to build a common understanding of the terminology.Post all chart paper for class review.

  10. Remove papers at the end of the period if this lesson is taught to more than one class, each class should only view information that they have generated.

  11. Lead a discussion by asking the following set of questions: note the responses on chart paper. What is the EPA? What is the Clean Air Act? How effective have agencies been in deterring problems with our air supply? What can be done to increase the quality of air we breathe? What has the for profit (businesses/industries) companies done to combat air pollution?

  12. Distribute copies of the air quality reports and explain how they are read.Emphasize how pollens and pollutants affect the makeup of the air that is breathed daily. Ask students to tell how mold will affect breathing and which people would be concerned about it?

  13. Ask: What can be done to eliminate pollutants from the air we breathe?

  14. Refer learners back to the cloud of confusion from the Anticipatory Set.

  15. Build the background by asking learners if they have seen a PSA (Public Service Announcement). Explain why a PSA is used. Share examples of several current and past popular PSAs available on YouTube, such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers); Brain on Drugs, and “Give a Hoot-Don’t Pollute.” Ask the students what they think it meant? While Woodsy was concerned with not polluting the land, would it apply to air quality too?Is it a slogan that we need to bring back?

  16. Have the learners access the Internet EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/air-trends to read information provided (or provide print copies of the report on air quality index for groups of students to read). Encourage them to explore how pollens and pollutants affect the makeup of what is breathed daily. Ask learners to tell how mold will affect breathing and which people would be concerned about it?

  17. All groups are required to read pages two through four to help them understand how to read the chart.

  18. Assign groups to read one of four topics: Ozone, Particle Pollution, Carbon Dioxide or Sulfur Dioxide. Additionally, explain that information from the handout Sources for the Pollutants (See Handout Two) should be incorporated into the presentation.

  19. Explain that each group will be responsible for presenting their findings to the entire class using the transparencies and markers. Tell the learners that this will be a cooperative learning group activity and their contributions will be graded as a group and individually from your observations. Teach Note: Handout Three, It’s All Relevant will assist you in keeping track. Additionally, in the presentation, learners are required to name the Air Quality Index (AQI) Pollutant, discuss the final format to be used to present viable/pertinent information.

  20. Groups should select a recorder, time keeper, leader who asks the questions, a set-up person to insure that all parts are placed in an organized form, (if there are six individuals there should be a monitor to verify if all are contributing), and all group members will be spokespersons for the presentation.

  21. Tell learners that the actual presentations will be made the next time that they meet. Allow about thirty minutes for this. Monitor each group consistently to keep them on task. Collect the presentation materials and transparencies for group presentations on the next meeting date.

  22. Distribute markers and chart paper for each group. Tell them to post any questions that come up and the solutions that the group feels are needed. Allow fifteen to twenty minutes for this activity.

  23. Wrap up by having each student to give one point that they read about or heard that helped make this issue an important one.

  24. Tell the learners that the next time you meet they will begin working on a service learning project to ensure that some problems that plague others can be lessened.


Learners will use a graphic organizer to defend a position about air quality. (See Handout One, Take a Stand/Position) The teacher will use the Rubric for Assessing Graphic Organizer, (See Handout Four) to evaluate the learners work.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.