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Near-Ground Level Ozone Pollution
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/intro/activities/24089.html

Omowumi Alabi, University of Missouri-Kansas City , From the On the Cutting Edge activity collection

This lab exercise is designed to provide a basic understanding of a real-world scientific investigation. Learners are introduced to the concept of tropospheric ozone as an air pollutant due to human activities and burning of fossil fuels. Students analyze and visualize data to investigate this air pollution and climate change problem, determine the season in which it commonly occurs, and communicate the results.

Activity takes one to two class periods plus homework assignments. Computer with internet access necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 11 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPa
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Human health and well-being will be affected to different degrees from the impacts from climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7f

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Some populations are more vulnerable to impacts of energy choices than others.
Other materials addressing:
7.6 Vulnerable populations.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
Other materials addressing:
B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
Other materials addressing:
F) Working with models and simulations.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
Other materials addressing:
C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
Other materials addressing:
E) Environmental Issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
Other materials addressing:
A) Identifying and investigating issues.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The common misconception that ozone and/or the ozone hole are primary causes of climate change is NOT addressed clearly in this activity, but some research suggests focusing on misconceptions may introduce or reinforce them. The educator will need to decide on the best strategy.
  • Groups of students can research cities of different size and industry so that the class can learn from the distribution of results.

About the Science

  • Activity addresses tropospheric ozone, and describes how it is produced through a chemical reaction of energy-produced pollutants with sunlight. The activity draws the distinction between human-induced tropospheric ozone and natural stratospheric ozone.
  • The activity focuses on tropospheric ozone as an air pollutant. However, common misconceptions exist in terms of ozone, the ozone hole, and their connection to climate change. Tropospheric ozone is not just an air pollutant but according to the IPCC, it is also the third most important greenhouse gas (after CO2 and methane). This needs to be stressed by the educator, ideally avoiding linking this to the hole in the ozone layer caused by chlorofluorocarbons. See more information here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html#troposphericozone.
  • The supporting materials highlight the health consequences of tropospheric ozone, what to do on an ozone alert day, and the use of the Air Quality Index.
  • Students synthesize the exercise by developing a scientific report that includes an abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and references.
  • Comments from expert scientist: I think it is a great idea to have students access online data resources to come up with their own hypotheses and analysis regarding tropospheric ozone. Introducing them to public resources from government web pages will make this lab exercise much more meaningful than if they were working with fabricated data or, I believe, even if they were working with data from a single place that had been collated for them.

About the Pedagogy

  • Simulation game accommodates different learning styles and could be used on its own with various grade-levels.
  • Educators should stress the scientific process and help students follow it from designing a hypothesis to writing a final scientific report.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Handouts and links to resources are available and are relatively easy to use. The activity does require computer access and the final report requires word processing software.
  • MS Word download of the activity needs updating as it references 2005 data. In addition some of the steps for using http://www.airnow.gov have been redesigned in recent years.
  • Teachers will need to adapt the downloaded instructions for current year and their own location.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

HS-LS2.C2:Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Stability and Change

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

Science and Engineering Practices: 11

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

HS-P1.5:Evaluate a question to determine if it is testable and relevant

HS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.

HS-P2.6:Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.

HS-P3.2:Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly.

HS-P3.4:Select appropriate tools to collect, record, analyze, and evaluate data.

HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

HS-P5.5:Apply ratios, rates, percentages, and unit conversions in the context of complicated measurement problems involving quantities with derived or compound units (such as mg/mL, kg/m3, acre-feet, etc.).

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P8.1:Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

HS-P8.3:Gather, read, and evaluate scientific and/or technical information from multiple authoritative sources, assessing the evidence and usefulness of each source.


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