Air Quality Health Index classroom kit, grades 5 and 6, health: chapter 1

Table of Contents

Introductory Activity: Silent Fact or Fiction?


This energizer will grab students’ attention and get them moving and ready for learning about the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). It is intended to get them interested and bring out misconceptions. If desired, the activity can be repeated as a review activity after students have completed the learning stations.

Before You Start

Explain to the class that they are going to do a Silent Fact or Fiction. One wall of the classroom is going to be labelled “Fact” and the other one is going to be “Fiction.” Place an example on the overhead and/or read it aloud. Students must then move silently but quickly to the region of the room that they guess is the correct answer. The teacher can then reveal the truth before moving to the next one. It is best to avoid explanations at this point because students will learn more for themselves in the learning stations.


Teachers can adapt this activity to meet the exact needs of their classrooms. One example would be to choose a disruptive students to keep score, which may make them feel more a part of the activity. Teachers might also choose a student to record a noise score or take off points on the class score for any noises.

As a Review

If used as a review at the completion of the learning stations, teachers may choose to have each student write their name and a statement on a piece of paper, indicating in brackets if it is fact or fiction. Then, the teacher can draw these statements from a hat for the Silent Fact or Fiction. This would highlight residual misconceptions on an individual basis.


There is an AQHI that is like the ultraviolet (UV) index, only it tells us about the health risk from air pollution for that day.

The AQHI is part of the forecast. (There is a maximum forecasted value for today, tonight and tomorrow.)

The AQHI is based on the risks of common air pollutants that harm human health.

A common air pollutant that harms human health is: dust (particulate matter).

Air pollution makes asthma symptoms worse.

Air pollution is a problem throughout the seasons.

A full bus takes 40 to 60 cars off the road.

Running your gas-powered lawnmower for one hour is equal to driving a new car between 320 and 480 kilometres.

Some people are more sensitive to air pollution.

The shape of the land can allow pollutants to be trapped in basins and valleys.

High UV radiation makes more ground-level ozone, which is a pollutant.

For high UV you cover up and add sunscreen; for high AQHI you change your plans.


For the AQHI, the lower the number, the greater the health risk associated with the air quality. (An AQHI of 2 is worse than an AQHI of 10.)

A common air pollutant that harms human health is: oxygen.

Blue is used to show a very high health risk from air quality.

Air pollution is an issue for cities. People who live in rural areas are not affected.

Children are the least sensitive to the adverse health effects of air pollution.

Strong winds allow pollutants to build up over an area.

Weather does not affect air quality.

The AQHI in [your location] today is [insert value]. The AQHI in [more urban area] is [insert a false high value] (Note: Choose values that highlight misconceptions about regional differences in AQHI).


Almarode, J. and Almarode, D. (2008). Energizing Students: Maximizing student attention and engagement in the science classroom. The Science Teacher, 75(9), 32-35.

AQHI Website

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