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Air & the



Dead Zones, Deposition, and Nitrogen Pollution

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Module Overview

The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure: it provides innumerable resources and ecosystem services to the living things in its watershed, especially humans. Yet the Bay is also a fragile ecosystem that has been inundated with pollution of all kinds. One of the oft-overlooked sources of pollution to the Bay is air pollution, which contributes a significant amount of nutrient pollution to its waters. In this Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) based module, students start by investigating a fish kill in the Bay, tracing the cause of this phenomenon back to algae blooms and nutrient pollution. Then they continue to work backwards to understand the sources of this nutrient pollution. Along the way they learn about watersheds and airsheds, and collect data on atmospheric deposition. Using this information, they build a model of pollution to the Bay, which they draw upon to create and implement an action plan to combat pollution. As a culmination of their investigation, students present their model and findings to local stakeholders.

Anchor phenomenon: A large area of dead fish floating in the Chesapeake Bay

  • 12 activities (1 optional) including action project and presentation

  • Approximately 12-13 class periods (plus 1 optional) plus time for action project and presentation (4+ class periods)




When to Teach This Module & Timing Notes


NGSS Standards Alignment - Middle School

NGSS Standards Alignment - 5th Grade

Virginia Standards of Learning Alignment

Common Core State Standards Alignment

5E Module Flow


Module Materials


Cost Considerations

Teacher Background Information


Module 4 Air Quality Champion: Lewis Linker

Module 4 Glossary

For more information about On the Air 2020, contact:

Rebecca Davis, Education Manager


For more information about Clean Air Partners, check out our website at:  www.cleanairpartners.net

© 2020 by Clean Air Partners.