Teachers’ Lounge

Classroom Activities

These are activities you can do in one or two class periods to investigate a particular concept or problem. The activities contain background information and links to related sections of this site. Each activity is print-ready and references the primary national (U.S.) academic standards it meets. More will be added over time, so check back regularly.

Average Vehicle Occupancy in Your Community
While it is true that cars are "cleaner" than in the past, the rapid rise in the number of vehicles on the highways still creates pollution. One way to get everyone where they're going with fewer vehicles is to use alternative means of travel such as buses, trains, bicycles, and carpools. The number of people traveling divided by the number of vehicles gives us an "Average Vehicle Occupancy" or AVO. Students will determine the Average Vehicle Occupancy in their community and discuss ways to improve this number.
Exploring Air Issues: A Community Survey
Is air pollution a problem in your community? How do students travel to school? What do your neighbors think of carpooling? What are they willing to do to reduce pollution? How does your community compare to others in the state? Students will develop, administer, and analyze a survey to determine attitudes toward transportation and air pollution.
Pounds of Pollution
Air pollution is a difficult concept to grasp. We often can't see it! You know that air has weight, but how much of a gas is a pound? Students will calculate the weight of various pollutants, and set up a display of 2-liter soda bottles to visualize the amount of air pollution emitted by a car each year.
Students will become familiar with the history, current use and the possible future of the automobile. They will investigate their community to determine the Average Vehicle Occupancy. The students will also determine how their family uses their own vehicles. They will conclude by suggesting ways to reduce auto air emissions and describing a future transit system or vehicle.
Milkweed Monitoring
This project uses milkweed plants, which grow in many places around the world, as bio-indicators of a type of air pollution called ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is a volatile chemical that reacts with things it comes into contact with - like plant tissue, lung tissue, and mucus membranes. Students will conduct a field biomonitoring study and relate their results to air pollution levels in their community.
XRT Suggested further reading/resources for educators: The bibliography—a list of books, articles, Web sites, and other resources we think are useful to educators.