Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education
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ONLINE COURSE: 6th Grade -> Criteria Pollutants (Week 2)

Part 1. Introduction
This week we will be introducing the six major outdoor air pollutants, collectively called criteria or common pollutants. To begin, please read and review each of the following web sites for ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Once you've reviewed these sites, please refer to the Assignment below.

Part 2. Criteria Pollutants Activity
First review the following Background information and then follow the instructions below to access the lesson linked off the project web site and complete the activity. NOTE: You will be asked to review and send a completed student handout (linked in the upper-right hand corner of each lesson) to the course instructors after EVERY online session.

2.1. Review the Background Information

The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.

As part of this task, the EPA has identified and tracks emissions of principal or criteria air pollutants including; ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds.

In this lesson, students will collect information about the various air pollutants and create a concept map.  A Concept Map (aka; webbing) is a type of graphic organizer that harnesses the power of our vision to understand complex information "at-a-glance." A concept map consists of cells that contain a concept (items) and links. The links (arrows) are labeled and explain the relationship between the cells, and the direction of the arrow represents the direction of the relationship.

Concept Maps can:
  • demonstrate an understanding of a body of knowledge
  • explore information and relationships
  • access prior knowledge
  • share knowledge and information
  • visualize problem solving options

A Sample Response is meant to be used only as a guide for evaluation as this exercise encourages creativity and student responses may vary dramatically, although each may be correct.


2.2 Review the "Teachers" Lesson Plan & Complete the Student Activity

  1. Access the EPA's Six Common Air Pollutants page or the Major Air Pollutants (.pdf) table page.
  2. Gather information on the following Six Common Pollutants, Ozone, Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Lead and complete the Criteria Pollutants Student Worksheet. Collect the following information:
    • Sources (Where does it come from?)
    • Causes for Concern (Why are we worried?)
    • Controls (How do we fix it?)
    • Release (Direct or Form in the air?)
  3. Use the completed Criteria Pollutants Student Worksheet to construct a concept map. Obtain the materials from your teacher for the concept map.


Assignment A - Criteria Pollutants Activity: Collaborate with your break-out group to complete the following activity: Discussion Board (see Instructions)
Note: You will need to coordinate with your break-out group members either by e-mail or phone to complete this assignment.

  • Use the information found on the web sites and pollutants table and collectively construct and submit one concept map.



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