Human Impacts, Weather, and the Story of a Code Red Day  

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Module Overview

This photograph of Earth, commonly known as “The Blue Marble,” was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft. When humans first began taking pictures of Earth from space in the 1960s, air and water pollution had already become huge problems in the United States. Photographs like this one, as well as books like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, inspired people to take action to save the planet. In 1970 the first Earth Day was held and the Clean Air Act was signed. The modern environmental movement was born. Since then, humans have done a lot to both damage and protect the Earth and its air. In this module, students will investigate a “bad air day” to understand the sources and types of man-made air pollution, focusing on ozone, a common contributor to bad air days in the region. They will also learn about weather, and the complex ways in which weather and air pollution interact. In doing so,

they will use the same sophisticated computer models that meteorologists use to predict both the weather and air pollution. Students will also take a historical look at how air quality has changed over time, using both the Air Quality Index (AQI) and EPA data as guides. As a culminating activity, students will use what they have learned to create an air quality report to inform the public about whether their air is safe to breathe.

Anchor phenomenon: A hazy day that occurred in Washington D.C. in July, 2018.

  • 9 activities + summative assessment project

  • Approximately 11-13 45-60 minute class periods + assessment project




When to Teach This Module


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


Teacher Background Information


Doing Our Part

Module 2 Air Quality Champion: Amelia Draper

Module 2 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.