Air Quality Monitoring for Kids: Tips for Teachers & Educators
With the rise of industrialization and urbanization, air pollution is increasingly becoming a major health concern, especially for families with children. That’s because air quality monitoring studies show that children are more susceptible to poor air quality than adults.
One Stanford study reported that children who are exposed to air pollution are more likely to experience long-term health issues into adulthood. This ranges from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases to a change in their immune cell profiles.
Furthermore, for the first time in history, a UK coroner ruled that a 9-year-old girl’s death was caused by poor air quality. The young girl was exposed to high levels of nitrogen oxide and Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5). As a result, she experienced severe asthma and acute respiratory failure.
Still, the majority of children don’t have a clear understanding of air quality. But in today’s world, it’s important to teach air quality lessons to your kids. By doing so, you protect them from the impacts of poor air quality not only today but also for the rest of their lives.
Air Quality Lesson Plan
Lesson plans aren’t only for schools. They’re also for parents, guardians, and family members, too. With a lesson plan, you can ensure you're effectively teaching them kids about air pollution, air quality, and other related topics, like climate science.
More importantly, it allows you to improve your activities and lectures depending on your kids' learning styles and abilities while still meeting your goals.
Below is a kid-friendly lesson plan to guide you:
Air Quality Around You
Objective:At the end of this lesson, children will be able to:
- Define air quality using their own words
- Know how to use an air quality monitor and read an air quality map
- Understand the impact of certain activities on air quality
Go to 5 different locations that your children frequent and record the air quality of each place. Compare the differences in air quality and identify the causes.
Below are possible locations you can explore:
- A park
- A crowded place like a mall
- A place near the road
- A portable air quality monitor. If none is readily available, use the PurpleAir Map!
- A notebook and pen
- Which location has the highest air quality?
- Which location has the poorest air quality?
- Identify the activities in the areas with the lowest air quality.
- Why do you think one place has a better air quality over the other?
How to Teach an Air Quality Lesson
Because you can’t directly see the effects of air quality, it’s not a simple subject to teach. Luckily, you can use these tips and tricks to make your air quality experiments fun and engaging for kids of any age.
Tip #1: Start with what they know.
Whether they’re 5 or 12 years old, your student already has a simple understanding of air and air quality. Start by checking in on how much they know about the topic. Then, build your lessons from there. Plus, science lessons, concepts, and theories are easier to understand by connecting them to something they already know or a relatable experience.
Tip #2: Ask them open-ended questions.
By asking children open-ended questions, you’re encouraging them to:
- Hone their vocabulary and communication skills by explaining concepts in their own words.
- Be critical thinkers by letting them come up with their own answers.
- Be confident in their knowledge and opinion.
Tip #3: Listen to them.
Teaching is not a one-sided activity. It involves cooperation and a conversation between you and your students. That’s why it’s so important to listen so that children feel valued. More than that, listening also allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each child.
Tip #4: Ground their exploration and curiosity in facts.
Children are naturally curious and would want to wander about. However, exploring without proper guidance can lead to misconceptions about air quality. That’s why it’s essential to ground their observations and conclusion on facts to help them fully understand an event or concept. One way to start doing this is by sharing these fun facts about air quality.
Air Quality Experiments for Kids
Lectures aren’t the only way to teach kids about air quality monitoring. Another way for them to learn is by conducting experiments.
Experiment 1: Gas Jars
While you generally can’t see air pollution, you can sometimes smell it. And so one way to teach kids about air pollution and its effects is by trapping them in little jars.
For this experiment, you’ll need:
- 3 glass mason jars
- Items to create air pollution:
- A lit matchstick or candle
- Nearly rotten fruit or vegetable
- A leaf, plant, or flower
Place each item in a separate jar. After a few minutes, ask your children to open the jars and describe the odor.
Experiment 2: Air Pollution at Home
While particulate matter causes a host of health problems, it’s not easily understood. So, here’s one fun experiment to be more aware of it.
What you’ll need:
- Clear plastic plates for each room in the house
- Petroleum jelly
- Poster putty or masking tape
- Magnifying glass
Label each plate and spread an equal amount of petroleum jelly on them. Then, hang the plates in the respective room. After 2-3 days, take down the plates and place them on a clean sheet of paper. Use a magnifying glass to observe the particles trapped in the petroleum jelly.
Experiment 3: Air Quality Monitoring at School
Air quality can’t be seen, but it can be monitored. Invest in an air quality monitor for your school and let your kids experience air quality in real-time.
What you’ll need:
- An air quality monitor
- A notebook and pen
Ask your children to create a table for every day of the week and for 3 different times of the day. Then, tell them to record the data on the air quality for each time of the day.
By the end of the week, ask them:
- During what day and time was air quality the highest? Why do you think it was high?
- When was air quality the lowest? Why?
- Based on the data, what do you think is the greatest contributor to air quality?
- How do you think we can reduce air pollution at our school?
Invest in Better Air Quality Monitoring
With the right instructions and guidance, your children can become more aware of their environment and gain valuable knowledge that will help them make better decisions in the future. Because air quality is important for future generations just as much as it is for us.
Worried about your air quality?
Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home and office.