Archive for the ‘Teachers: Air Quality Educational Resources’ Category

Classroom Science Project: Fairbanks Air Quality Module

Proposed as an Extended Learning Program, 5th Grade Project

Developed 9/2010

If you have recommendations of changes to make in the design or description of this science project, send them to cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com. Thank you.

Outcomes: Students learn about data collection, data analysis, air quality, applied science, and how to be a better judge of particulate pollution levels.

Each day a student in the class would check the Air Quality Index site and record the PM 2.5 24-hour average micrograms (or microns) per cubic meter. The report given is the average as of a given time, say 4 pm. If for some reason the daily data is not collected on a day, the student could call the Borough Air Quality office, 459-1005, to try to collect missed data.

Also, class members would check the Weather Underground site for air pressure, wind speed, temperature, visibility, and precipitation. The class can choose which of these data to collect. If for some reason the daily data is not collected on any day, it can be retrieved later. Ideally, the air pressure, wind speed, temperature, visibility, and precipitation would be average calculations for the same 24-hour period, but the class could choose instead to use atmospheric data for a particular time, say 4 pm.

Atmospheric data collected would be graphed by the class weekly.

Atmospheric data could be exported to Excel to speed the calculations necessary to plot the information on the graphs. The six Air Quality Index Categories are coded with six colors which could be added to the graph to improve readability.

By evaluating the relationships in the lines on the graph, the class would make its own conclusions on how the atmospheric conditions affect the daily PM 2.5 level and the healthfulness of the air. Precipitation, for example, washes the fine PM 2.5 particles (smoke, haze) out of the air. By looking at visibility also, students would learn to gauge PM 2.5 levels themselves.

For further explorations, the class might be able to make a field trip to the Borough Air Quality Office, tour the Borough monitoring stations, and see the mobile air sampling vehicle. The class could request that the mobile sampling vehicle come to their school. Maybe the class could even ride in the vehicle to conduct sampling at some of the most affected sites, such as schools like Woodriver Elem or Randy Smith Middle.

Depending on how far the students want to take this, the class could propose a policy to protect school children from PM 2.5 during recess. The school district appears to already have a policy on reducing “prolonged and heavy exertion” during recess and canceling recess at higher PM 2.5 levels. The class could come up with its own policy to recommend to the school district to adequately protect children (considered one of the “sensitive groups” in the Air Quality Index prepared by EPA).

Links we’d need:

FNSB Air Quality Index:


FNSB Judging Particulate Levels in your Area:


The Weather Underground site data for 99701 (can be exported to Excel):


FDNM article referring to ‘When the level (24-hr PM 2.5) reaches 100 micrograms per cubic meter, the school district states that elementary schools should “reduce prolonged and heavy exertion” during recess. At 200, recess is moved indoors.’


FNSB School District has regulations and guidelines for activities during unhealthy particulate levels, called Administrative Regulations 960.1 Guidelines for Student Activity in Adverse Conditions.

Additional Resources:





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“Something in the Air: Air Pollution in Schools” Journal Article

Discusses the danger of unhealthy air in the school environment, describing common problems and how parents and schools can respond. The article focuses on the dangers of mold, pesticides, diesel exhaust, and radon. The three sidebars describe how to promote indoor air quality at school, note how to determine whether the school’s air is making children sick, and offer indoor air quality resources. (SM)

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Clean Air for Anchorage and Fairbanks: Curriculum for Grades 7-12

This is a curriculum for ten lessons on air and air pollution for secondary school teachers. Among the topics addressed are pollutants, health effects, weather inversions, personal involvement, and automobile emissions. Particular emphasis is placed upon problems in Alaskan cities. Lesson plans contain a materials list, background information, questions, and activities. The materials can be used in conjunction with classes in health, government, science, and social studies; suggested follow-up activities involve skills developed in art, English, drama, and library classes. A list of field trip sites and teacher resources is included. (Author/WB)

The sponsor of the curriculum is the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Juneau.

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With Every Breath You Take” Journal Article

Describes the disease asthma and its symptoms and how it effects an asthmatic person’s life. Discusses the possible linkage of air pollution to asthma, the growing rate of the disease, and deaths related to asthma in Phoenix, Arizona. (YDS)

Published by the National Resources Defense Council, 40 W. 20th Street, New York, NY 10011.

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