Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education
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ONLINE COURSE: 6th Grade -> Particulates

Part 1. Introduction
Reducing emissions of particulate matter (PM) remains a crucial component of EPA's strategy for cleaner air and improved visibility.  Over the last two decades, significant reductions in PM emissions from some industrial processes have been achieved.  However, meeting EPA's national health-based air quality standards continues to be an important step to ensure the air is safe to breathe. EPA, states, tribes, and local governments are working together to reduce emissions of PM through several control programs.

National health-based air quality standards
Breathing PM can cause serious health problems. Much of the nation's focus has been on complying with EPA's national standards for larger-sized or "coarse" particles in the air. Coarse particles come from sources such as wind blown dust and unpaved roads.  Coarse particles can accumulate in the respiratory system and aggravate health problems such as asthma.

In 1997, EPA strengthened its health protection standards for PM by adding an indicator for even smaller-sized or "fine" particles. Fine particles generally come from industrial fuel combustion and from vehicle exhaust.  We now know that fine particles are most closely associated with increased respiratory disease, decreased lung functioning, and even premature death. 

Although the method for collecting PM and the ability to magnify and identify the particles will be very limited in a K-12 classroom setting, the steps required for collection are very valuable for the students to follow.

Part 2. Particulates Activity
Since you completed the Particulates activity during the training session, please just review the lesson to become more familiar with the lesson.

Part 3. Predicting Particulates
Although even experts have difficulty predicting when a PM event will occur, there sources of information that can be utilized to select a good time frame to implement the activity with your students to garner the maximum benefit of the lesson.

Please complete the activity below. The activity can be useful as a planning tool when you implement the activity in your classroom, or as an extension to the lesson, allowing the students to work through the same process so that they can plan when they think would be the best time to deploy their "sticky cards".

Assignment A - Particulates Activity: Collaborate with your group members to complete the following activity. Please post your results on the Discussion Board or email Instructions directly. To divide the work, one of you might want to handle the weather info and the other the PM info and share to create a prediction.

1. Visit the AIRNow site again, but this time go directly to the CT Air Quality page.

2. Record the AQI for PM for today, yesterday and tomorrow.

3. Go to the Weather Underground web site.

4. Type in New Haven, CT in the white box in the top left of the page.

5. Record the general conditions for today, including high and low temperatures, humidity, wind conditions, events (sun, rain, fog, etc.).

6. Record the general conditions for the next 5 days for New Haven.

7. Based on the weather conditions predicted, do you think there will be better days than others to deploy the cards? Explain your reasoning.. is it rain? Lack of rain? Wind? Lack of wind? etc. and submit your predictions.



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