Truck with Smoke Cropped

AIR POLLUTION IN the Community

Activity 3a (Explore): Measuring Particulate Matter Using Technology

Expand All

Collapse All

Switch to Dark Mode

 

Important Note About Activities 3a and 3b

There are two different methods students may use to measure particulate matter. Each is described below. You may choose to do one or both activities, although the content in the two activities is similar.

 

  • Activity 3a (high tech). Students use commercially available PM meters and android tablets to measure particulate matter pollution in and around the school in order to identify sources of PM and areas that may be unsafe due to air pollution. They gather and analyze data in order to support claims about how safe the air is around the school.

  • Activity 3b (low tech). Students use the engineering design process to design a low-tech particulate matter detector. They test out their models, and then deploy them into the field where they can gather PM that is deposited. Next, they gather and analyze the data from their detectors in order to support claims about how safe the air is around the school.

Activity Summary

Students use commercially available PM meters and android tablets to measure particulate matter pollution in and around the school in order to identify sources of PM and areas that may be unsafe due to air pollution. They gather and analyze data in order to support claims about how safe the air is around the school.

Activity Objectives & Materials

Approximate Time: 2-3 class periods (90-180 minutes)

 

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to measure particulate matter using technology

  • Students will be able to use their measurements to draw and support conclusions about how healthy the air is near the school

 

Materials:

  • AirBeams (approx. 1:4 students) These may be purchased or borrowed in partnership with Clean Air Partners (see note below)

  • Android device with AirCasting app

  • Clipboards

  • Computer & projector

  • Student computers (optional)

 

Teacher Guides:

  • AirBeams & AirCasting: How does It Work?

  • Using the AirBeams

  • AirBeam Lesson Guide

Handouts:

  • Measuring PM in the Classroom

  • Measuring PM in the School Community

Borrowing AirBeams: Clean Air Partners has a class set of AirBeam PM monitors that can be used by students. Contact Clean Air Partners Education Manager Rebecca Davis (rnjidavis@gmail.com) to inquire about scheduling a visit from CAP staff.

Standards Connection

DCI: LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

SEP: Analyzing Data

 

Before Starting This Activity

Before starting this activity

  • Read the information sheet: AirBeams & AirCasting: How Does it Work?

  • Read the information sheet: Using the AirBeam and AirCasting App and familiarize yourself with how the AirBeam and AirCasting equipment works

  • Setup stations for students to measure particulate matter indoors (ex. candle, incense, room deodorizer, etc.)

  • Plan for any necessary chaperones for outdoor work on Day 2

  • Add map of the school community (anywhere students may go for outdoor work) to the Day 2 data sheet: Measuring Particulate Matter in the School Community. If this isn’t possible, you can have students write out their routes.

Modification Note: There are many different variations to how you might do this project, depending on your school grounds, availability of chaperones, etc. Consider what modifications, additions, or special preparations you may need to make based on your individual situation.

 

Warmup

What sources of particulate matter do you think there are near our school? (you can be broad with the definition of “nearby”)

  • Possible answers: schoolbuses (and other vehicles), construction sites (for dust), power/chemical plants that are upwind, wildfires, fields/trees that are producing pollen

 

1. Frame the Activity

Tell students that now that they know the trucks in the pictures are emitting particulate matter, as citizen scientists it is their job to see if trucks or other sources of PM are making their own communities unsafe. For the next three days, they will measure and analyze the amount of particular matter in their community. Identifying and quantifying the sources of PM in a community is important so that community members can take action to protect their health and the environment.

Community Connection: Take a moment to explain to students what a citizen scientist is, and how citizen scientists can contribute to the health of their communities.

2. AirBeam Activity Outline

Due to the detailed directions required for using the AirBeams, a separate lesson guide is attached. Below is an outline of the daily activities.

Day 1 Outline

  1. Shows students how the AirBeam and AirCasting app works including a brief review of the internal workings of the device

  2. Divide the class into groups and assign group roles.

  3. Give each group an AirBeam and tablet to use and have them practice connecting the AirBeam and tablet using Bluetooth

  4. Have students take measurements at various stations in the classroom

  5. Using a Google Map of the school environment, plan routes where students can measure air quality at different locations during Day 2

Day 2 Outline

  1. Refamiliarize students with the AirBeam equipment

  2. Take students outside and lead them along their routes to collect data and make observations.

  3. Return to class to analyze data and observations.

 

Day 3 Outline

  1. Students complete analysis questions based on their data.

  2. Students present their results to the class.

  3. Students complete the “Conclusions” section of their data sheets including a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning argument.

Formative Assessment

See lesson guide for formative assessment information.