The goal of this curriculum is to educate high school students about air quality, its impact on health, how to monitor both indoor and outdoor air quality, and analyze and interpret results. Students will learn to use monitoring tools, analyze data, and propose strategies to improve air quality in different environments.
This curriculum was piloted at Imhotep Institute Charter High School with their STEM ambassadors over 12 months. It was done in partnership with Craig Johnson and Peter Winslow from Interpret Green, a local company with a mission to develop interpretive media that engages, educates and inspires while advancing the goals of advocacy for nature environmental sustainability, social justice and artistic expression for the common good. This curriculum requires the use of two stationary monitors and one portable monitor. At Imhotep, we used AirNote monitors for the stationary monitors (one inside and one outside) and an Atmotube portable monitor. Throughout this program, students collected stationary air pollution data from inside and outside their school and portable data from school trips to Ghana and Sapelo Island, Georgia. Fieldtrips closer to home could be substituted.
In the first module, the students are introduced to the topics of environmental health and air quality. The first module provides a solid foundation on types of air pollution, sources indoor and outdoor, and health effects. Students are educated on the various pollutants, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, and their detrimental effects on human health and the environment. This module emphasizes the importance of monitoring air quality through practical demonstrations and the use of air quality monitors. This hands-on approach helps students grasp the real-time impact of pollution on their surroundings. During the first module, the students install an indoor and outdoor air monitor at their school. Additionally, we discuss issues of environmental justice and how the unequal distribution of air pollution causes disproportionate effects on vulnerable communities.
The next three modules focus on environmental justice areas with unique air pollution sources. In our pilot program at Imhotep, we focused on Ghana, South Philadelphia, and Sapelo Island, Georgia. These locations each have their own history of air pollution and introduce the students to the differences in rural and urban environmental justice areas. In these modules, we discuss sources of air pollution, including local industry, modes of transportation, and cultural practices. We also train the students on how to record portable air monitoring data. By studying air pollution in different regions, students can engage in comparative analysis. This allows them to identify common patterns, unique challenges, and the diverse strategies employed by various communities to address air quality issues.
The final module is focused on the development and presentation of a final data visualization. The goal of this data visualization is to create clear and compelling visuals that convey the key points the students took away from this program. The visualization will cover topics covered in lectures and display the data collected by air monitors throughout this program. At Imhotep, the final data visualization was shown on an interactive screen and presented by the students for local politicians, health professionals, and community leaders. Visualizations are powerful tools for raising public awareness, educating communities about air quality issues, and motivating individuals to take actions to improve air quality.
|Presentations and Activities
|1. Introduction to Air Quality
|1.1 Introduction to Environmental Health
|o What is environmental health?
o What is air pollution?
o Types of air pollution
o Sources (indoor and outdoor)
o Health impacts
o Calculating pollution generated in idling
|1.2. Introduction to Environmental Justice
|o History of Environmental Justice
o Environmental justice communities in Philadelphia
o How to navigate EJ Screen and create EJ reports
|1.3. Introduction to Air Monitors
|o How air monitors work
o What data air monitors will produce
o Introduce AirNote monitors and online dashboard
|1.4. Indoor Air Quality
|o Sources of indoor air pollution
o Hypothesis generation for air quality inside the school
o Placement of air monitor inside school
Air monitor installation inside the school
|1.5. Outdoor Air Quality
|o Sources of outdoor air pollution
o Introduction to heat islands
o Hypothesis generation for air quality/heat index outside the school
o Placement of air monitor outside school
Air monitor installation outside the school
|2.1. Air Quality in Ghana
|o Air quality issues in Ghana
o Unique sources of air pollution in Ghana
o Training on using the Atmotube portable air monitor
Worksheet for data collection in Ghana
|2.2. Portable data analysis from Ghana
|o Discussion on data collection in Ghana
o Review data collected
|3. South Philadelphia
|3.1. Community activism in South Philadelphia
|o History of the PES refinery
o Community groups in South Philadelphia
|4. Sapelo Island
|4.1. Air Quality in Sapelo Island
|o Air quality issues in Sapelo Island
o Unique sources of air pollution at Sapelo Island
o Re-training on using the Atmotube portable air monitor
Worksheet for data collection in Sapelo Island
|4.2. Portable data analysis from Sapelo Island
|o Discussion on data collection in Sapelo Island
o Review data collected
|5. Data visualization
|5.1. Planning for data visualization
|o Discussion on what topics should be included in the visualization, considering purpose, audience, available data
o Split into teams with assigned topics
|5.2. Building the visualization
|o Gather together all photos, videos, and data from this program
o Work in teams on assigned topics
|5.3. Practice presentation
|o Practice explaining this deliverable to audience members (local politicians, community leaders)
Pennsylvania Academic Standards Covered in this Curriculum
Environment and Ecology, 4.3 Environmental Health
|4.3.10 Grade 10
|4.3.12 Grade 12
o Describe environmental health issues.
o Identify the effects on human health of air, water and soil pollution and the possible economic costs to society.
o Describe how indoor pollution may affect human health (e.g., dust mites, fumes, cat dandruff).
o Explain how common household cleaning products are manufactured and how to dispose of their by-products after use.
o Analyze the complexity of environmental health issues.
o Identify environmental health issues and explain how they have been addressed on a worldwide level.
o Analyze efforts to prevent, control and/or reduce pollution through cost and benefit
analysis and risk management.
o Describe the impact of occupational exposures as they relate to environmental health issues.
o Identify invisible pollutants and explain their effects on human health.
o Explain the relationship between wind direction and velocity as it relates to dispersal and occurrence of pollutants.
o Explain how multiple variables determine the effects of pollution on environmental health, natural processes and human practices.
o Identify evidence of natural events around the world and their effects on environmental health (e.g., Yellowstone National Park fires).
o Identify local and state environmental regulations and their impact on environmental health.
o Analyze data and explain how point source pollution can be detected and eliminated.
o Identify and explain ways of detecting pollution by using state-of-the-art technologies.
o Analyze the local, regional and national impacts of environmental health.
o Research and analyze the local, state and national laws that deal with point and nonpoint source pollution; evaluate the costs and
benefits of these laws.
o Explain mitigation and its role in environmental health.
o Explain industry’s initiatives to meet state and federal mandates on clean air and water.