Air Quality Health Index classroom kit, grades 5 and 6, health: chapter 9

Station 6: Kids Know Best!


Students identify and solve local environmental health issues by engaging in a collaborative, problem-solving cycle.

Real-World Connection

Curriculum Themes

A complete set of provincial and territorial curriculum links can be found at the end of the stations.


Optional: Additional resources with information on communities who have tried and/or data to support the fact cards.


Set-up: There are two ways to set this up. One is to have each group that arrives at the station start from scratch with the materials provided. The other is to have each newly arriving group pick up where the last group left off, bringing the class as a whole closer to a final solution. Both methods will work for you.


Canadian Lung Association. Pollution & air quality.

Fay, G. (2006). Using a Cycle to Find Solutions. The Science Teacher 73(8), 44-47.

Nielsen, Mark. Bus rides free on bad air days. March 3, 2009. Prince George Citizen.

CTV News. Few kids walk to school anymore, study finds. December 3, 2008.

Skywatchers Guide to Weather Supplement One: Air Quality. Environment Canada.

Station 6: Student Instructions

Something is wrong, and you are going to come up with a solution. A real one that deals with your school, your town, you. It’s a problemsolving cycle that you can use for anything from large community projects to convincing your parents to let you go to a movie.

The cycle keeps going until you really solve the problem. It looks like this:

9 box problems resolutions cycle
Long description

A 9 box problems resolutions cycle where the boxes are entitles as follow : Main problem, Rules , Possible solutions, Choose best solution, Check for new problems, Check or add rules, More solutions, Choose best solution, Repeat until problem is solved, which is linked back to the “Check for new problems” box.

  1. The problem.

    The gym teacher is noticing poor air quality outside during lunchtime intermural sports. Some of the children are coughing and wheezing, and even the teacher’s eyes are burning. To sum it up, local traffic and industry are causing air pollution in the school yard.

  2. You make the rules.

    When we do things, we all have some rules to follow. When you are a child, adults give you new rules for almost every thing you do, like you can go outside but you need to put on sunscreen.

    Or, you can get a dog but you have to take it for a walk every day.

    You need to choose what rules you need to make for solving this problem. Some ideas for rules are that the solution has to:

    • be safe,
    • be legal,
    • be fast,
    • be cheap,
    • fix the pollution.
  3. List your rules.

    List your rules across the top of the table provided on your handout.

  4. Possible solutions...

    Kids can come up with great solutions that adults might not even think about. As a group, think of possible solutions to the problem and list four of them in the table under “solution”. We have made a list of possibilities to get you started but please feel free to use your own. You will get another chance to do this again later.

    No idling: No-idling laws for when parents pick up and drop off students.

    Use fans: Reduce how much fuel we burn by turning off air conditioning and using fans in school and in the car.

    Slow down: Drive 20% slower, including buses and parents.

    Walk or bike: Walk or bike to school instead of driving.

    Take the bus: Use public transit to get to school.

  5. Pick one solution

    Pick one solution each and become an expert about it. Use the FACT CARDS and additional materials provided by your teacher to learn about that topic. Then give it a plus (+), minus (-), or neutral (0) to show if the solution follows the rules.

  6. Choose the best solution.

    Draw a star beside it or highlight it on the table.

  7. Brainstorm new problems.

    Now you have the best solution, but the problem is not solved. There are new problems. How will you really make this happen? Brainstorm the new problem you have and choose at least one.

  8. Check or add rules.

    In the group, make another list of rules before you come up with new solutions. Consider making rules for your own school that consider your school’s location and who needs to participate. Some rules might be the same as before.

  9. List solutions and choose the best one.

    Have you solved the problem yet? If you have time, repeat the process again until you do.

Collage of people exercising

Station 6: Fact Cards

No idling

Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine. Most cars and trucks require only 15 to 30 seconds of idling before being driven, even in winter. 45 seconds of idling uses roughly the same amount of fuel as driving a kilometre.

At least 50 towns east of Quebec have anti-idling laws, and these laws are planned for western cities such as Victoria, B.C. In Kentville, N.S., a maximum of 3 minutes of idling is allowed.

Sky Watchers

Use fans

Save fuel by using air conditioning only when needed in vehicles and buildings. Fans use much less energy.

Roll down the windows when driving in the city. On the highway, close the windows and use fans or a lighter setting of air conditioning.

You use 3-5% more energy for every degree your air conditioner is set below 27ºC.

Energy Star
How to Use Window Fans for Home Cooling


Slow down

You can use less fuel and make less pollution by driving slower. When on the highway, driving between 90 km/h and 100 km/h can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%.

Also, avoiding quick starts and stops uses less fuel.


Walk or bike

Say good-bye to gas! Swap gasoline-powered vehicles and other machinery, such as motorboats, motorbikes and gas lawnmowers, for human-powered versions like canoes and sailboats, bicycles, and electric or push lawnmowers.

In 1971, 80% of Canadian children aged seven and eight walked to school.


Take the bus

Use public transportation or car pool instead of using your car; after all, one busload of passengers saves nine tonnes of air pollution each year.

In Prince George, B.C., it is now free to take the bus on bad air days.


Station 6: Student Handout

  1. List your rules across the top of the table.
  2. List your four possible solutions along the side.
  3. Read the fact sheets. Use a plus (+), minus (-), or neutral (0) in the following table to show if the solution follows your rules.
  4. Choose the best solution. Draw a star beside it or highlight it on the table.
  5. We now have some new problems. Three (3) of the new problems are:

  6. Circle one of the new problems and repeat the problem-solving cycle to fill in a new table. Make up new rules and new solutions.
  7. It’s your turn to get information about your ideas for solutions. Then use a plus (+), minus (-), or neutral (0) in the boxes to show if the solution follows the rules.
  8. Choose the best solution. Draw a star beside it or highlight it on the table.
  9. Use the following table to repeat the cycle again and get even closer to solving the problem!

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