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Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

It's Up in the Air!

Lesson Description:
In this lesson students will conduct a scientific experiment that reveals what types of particles are in the air at their school. Students will then report on these results and write letters to Steven Johnson, the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Learning Objectives:
  • Examine a variety of tools used to collect scientific data. 
  • Read and discuss the article, “Shivering and Unsung, Scientists Monitor the Arctic Year After Year After Year” to learn about the importance of repetitive scientific research. 
  • Conduct an experiment on air quality and report the findings to the class. 
  • Write letters to the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency offering suggestions on how to improve the air quality in their school community.

Lesson Type:
  • Experiment

Sustainability Topic:
  • Green Building

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Building Program

Time Needed:
1 hour
Standards Addressed:
View the standards addressed in the attached PDF.
Materials Needed:
  • student journals -various data collection devices -copies of experiment -copies of the scientific method found online at the University of California, Riverside’s Department of Physics, 
  • pens/pencils 
  • classroom board -copies of article, “Shivering and Unsung, Scientists Monitor the Arctic Year After Year After Year” found online, 
  • six sheets of 8″ x 10″ (205 x 255 millimeters, or mm) piece of shoebox cardboard or stiff paper from a file folder for each group in the class 
  • six pieces of sticky material, enough for each group in the class. Sticky labels or transparent tape work fine. Each piece should be about 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ (40 mm) 
  • one light string per collector, 12″ (300 mm) long 
  • six magnifying glasses 
  • microscopes

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF) on Behalf of the NY Times Learning Network
Contact Email:

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