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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 fuel energy. The activity uses, analyzes, and visualizes data to investigate this air pollution and climate change problem, determines the season in which it commonly occurs, and communicates the analysis to others in a standard scientific format.

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

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate information can be used to reduce vulnerabilities or enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems affected by climate change. Continuing to improve scientific understanding of the climate system and the quality of reports to policy and decision-makers is crucial.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
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Human health and mortality rates will be affected to different degrees in specific regions of the world as a result of climate change. Although cold-related deaths are predicted to decrease, other risks are predicted to rise. The incidence and geographical range of climate-sensitive infectious diseases—such as malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases—will increase. Drought-reduced crop yields, degraded air and water quality, and increased hazards in coastal and low-lying areas will contribute to unhealthy conditions, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
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Energy affects quality of life .
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
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B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
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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
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
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C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
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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
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A) Identifying and investigating issues.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of public concern. Acting in their areas of expertise, scientists can help people understand the likely causes of events and estimate their possible effects.
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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 whether to focus on them or not.
  • Ideally student groups 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, 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 human chemicals. See more information here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html#troposphericozone
  • The supporting materials highlight the health consequences of tropospheric ozone and 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 your own location.

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