Air Quality Health Index classroom kit, grades 5 and 6, environment: chapter 13
2. Air quality and the environment
This lesson involves tracking our actions back to the earth’s resources. It connects everyday choices to renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Short, focused activities keep students’ attention as they learn about air quality, fossil fuels, and electricity.
- Petroleum jelly
- White paper/card stock OR large and small jars
- Chart paper
Real World Connections
- Understanding how personal choices can improve air quality, and how that traces back to both renewable and non-renewable energy.
- Awareness that the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Environment Canada’s daily forecast is a reflection of local air quality and can be used to inform choices.
- Differentiating between technologies available to generate electricity and the root source of that energy (renewable and non-renewable resources).
- Renewable and non-renewable sources of electrical energy.
For a list of learning outcomes, please refer to the end of this document.
At least one (1) week ahead: Set up for visible pollution:Footnote1
- Label two pieces of card stock with a letter (A, B). Smear the card stock on one side with petroleum jelly.
- Tape the sheets next to each other on the outside of a window, smear-sides out. Do this when it isn’t raining or snowing. Keep track of the location.
- Take one sheet in after one day and the other in after one week.
Before Class: Set up carousel:
- Tape 4 or 5 pieces of chart paper around the room. At the top of each paper, write a key phrase:
- Cut down on burning fossil fuels
- Choose renewable sources of electricity
- Use less electricity
- Avoid burning
- Shop with renewable resources in mind
- Divide the paper in half below it. On the left side, write “List”; on the right side, write “Draw”.
Setting the Stage and Elicitation (5 min)
- Show students the jelly-smeared papers or jars.
- Show the class the template in Hands Up (Overhead). Ask them to trace their hand onto a piece of paper and label each finger as indicated.Footnote 2
- Think: Ask students to think silently about what they see on the jelly-smeared papers and write their ideas on the handprint.
- Pair: Ask students to partner to chat for one minute about their ideas.
- Share: Call on two or three individuals to share with the class.
Restructuring: Carousel (30 min)
- Divide students into groups of five (5) or less and provide with a marker at their home base.
- Read the Carousel Instructions.
- Direct the activity until they are back to their home groups.
- Pass out the appropriate Carousel Reading A, B, C, D, or E to each home group.
- Ask students to read the article and read over their chart, indicating which items are correct or incorrect.
- Ask each group to stand up and share their final ideas with the class.
Application and Conclusion (20 min)
- Pass out Air Quality Report. Ask students to complete the assignment in class or finish it at home.
- Show students the jelly-smeared papers or jars again. Ask them to take out their original hand-tracings.
- In a full-class discussion, ask students for environmental actions, scientific information, and technologies that could help solve the problem(s) the jelly-smeared papers represent.
- Smear petroleum jelly on white card stock and place inside jars.
- Put the jars in different locations, including those where you expect visible air pollution.
- Label the jars with the location.
- Today we are going to do a carousel. As you can see, there are pieces of chart paper around the room.
- In groups, you will rotate around the classroom to each piece of chart paper.
- Here, you will brainstorm everything you know about the topic, keyword, or phrase.
- The trick is that you will have 30 seconds less time for each brainstorm. We will switch after 2 minutes at your home base, 1.5 min at the next chart paper, then 1 min, and only 30 seconds at the final station.
Environment Canada. Air Quality Health Index. Revised Dec. 2011.
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