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ONLINE COURSE: 7th Grade -> Introductions and The Ozone Between Us (Week 1)

Part 1. Introduction
This week we will be introducing Outdoor Air Pollution and reviewing the first 7th Grade activity, The Ozone Between Us. To begin, please read and review each of the following Indoor and Outdoor air pollution resources. While this project focuses on Outdoor air pollution, it will be useful for you to review both so as to better understand the related concepts. Once you've reviewed these sites, please refer to the Assignment below.


Assignment A - Outdoor Air Pollution: Introduce yourself AND respond to at least one posting using the Discussion Board (see Instructions) by Thursday, 3/24/2005. Be sure to include the following:

  • your name, the name of your school, and any other information that you would like to share.
  • one new fact about outdoor air pollution you learned from the above resources;
  • how outdoor air pollution differs from indoor air pollution; and
  • at least two questions you have about outdoor air pollution you'd like to have answered by the end of this project.


Part 2. The Ozone Between Us Activity
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.

The first activity you will introduce to your students for this project is The Ozone Between Us activity. In this activity, students will learn that ground level ozone occurs in many areas of the country and that ground level ozone problems are often associated with population centers.

2.1. Review the Background Information

Ozone (O3) is a gas that occurs in two layers of the atmosphere. The stratospheric or "good" ozone layer, which extends upward from about 10 to 30 miles from the earth's surface, protects life on earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays (UV-b). However, ozone found in the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere that extends from the earth's surface to about 10 miles up, is deemed ground level or "bad" ozone. At ground level, ozone is an air pollutant that damages human health, vegetation, many common materials, and is a key ingredient of smog.

Ozone has the same chemical structure whether it occurs miles above the earth or at ground level. At ground level, ozone is formed when certain compounds react in the presence of direct sunlight.

VOCs + NOx + Sunlight = Ozone

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) sources include: household products such as paints, paint strippers, and other solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth repellents and air fresheners, stored fuels and automotive products, hobby supplies and dry-cleaned clothing. Other sources outside the home include gasoline stations, autobody paint shops, and print shops. In addition to all the man made sources of VOCs, natural sources of VOCs exist. For example, trees naturally release small amounts of VOCs.

NOx (nitrogen oxide gases) sources include: automobiles, trucks and buses, and off-road engines such as aircraft, locomotives, construction equipment, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment. Other sources include chemical manufacturers, and combustion sources such as power plants burning fossil fuels.

When VOCs and NOx are released into the air, they begin to react. Sunlight and hot weather cause the reaction between VOCs and NOx in the air to speed up. One of the products of the reaction is ground level ozone. If the sunlight is very strong and the weather is very hot, sometimes harmful concentrations of ground level ozone are produced. As a result, ground level ozone is known as a summertime air pollutant.

Many urban areas tend to have high levels of ground level ozone. But even rural areas are subject to increased ozone levels because winds can carry ozone, and the pollutants that form it, hundreds of miles away from the original sources.

Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic cities are on the list of the highest ground level ozone cities in America, along with other cities, such as Los Angeles and Houston. Some of these cities suffer from high levels of ozone air pollution because of local traffic and industry. Other areas without major industry or large populations, suffer due to pollution transported by prevailing winds from other communities. Regardless of how the ground level ozone gets to the cities, it can pose health threats to all the inhabitants; people, animals and plants.

Often industry is blamed entirely for ground level ozone air pollution, but actually private citizens are responsible for a significant percentage of the air pollutants that lead to ozone smog. Motor vehicle emissions are the single greatest contributor to ground level ozone pollution.  In particular, diesel engines, like those found in school buses, emit high levels of NOx and particulate matter (PM), and in addition, a complex mixture of gases, many of which are known or suspected cancer causing agents.

Ground level ozone is believed to be the most common air pollutant and the cause of injury to the environment and human health. Although we have some control over sources of some of the ozone producing air pollutants, there is no control over the heat and sunlight that turns those pollutants into ground level ozone.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) coordinates ground level ozone information through the AIRNow web site. The web site coordinates real-time ground level ozone monitor readings from across the country and compiles the information into animations and forecast maps.  The location of monitoring stations reflects the quantity and accuracy of the data collected. Although ozone monitors represent ozone measurements over a large area, there are areas of the country that may not appear to have an ozone problem simply because there may not be any monitoring stations to report ground level ozone that may be present. The monitors have been placed in areas that have a higher likelihood to have ground level ozone present. It is not practical to place monitors everywhere due to the high costs (hundreds of thousands of dollars) of each monitor and the maintenance of the monitors once in place.

Additionally, you can use and review the following EPA Ozone resources to learn more about Ozone:



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

  1. Access the Project web site, select CT, New Haven, Grade 7, and then click the The Ozone Between Us activity in the left-hand navigation bar.
  2. Scroll down and select the "Teachers" icon Teachers icon. A pop-up teacher lesson plan will appear. Review each of the sections, access and/or print all of the required materials, and return to the student activity.
    • NOTE: It is recommended that you PRINT this Teacher lesson plan so you can refer back to it as you complete the activity and to take notes on it in preparation for when you will use this lesson with your students.
  3. Follow the directions and complete the Student activity. Enter your answers electronically in the Microsoft WORD version of Student Handout. When you complete the activity, refer to the Assignment below.



Assignment B - The Ozone Between Us Activity
You will need to coordinate with your break-out group members either by e-mail or phone to complete this assignment.
  1. Complete The Ozone Between Us Student Worksheet (ozonebetweenCT.doc) individually. You will submit this completed document along with the following group activity to the Course Instructors via e-mail by the date below.
  2. What state or states registered the highest ozone level on July 22 during the 2002, 2003, and 2004 summers? Prove it!
    Note: It is recommended that you divide the years among your group members and then synthesize your results.
    1. Access the EPA's AirNow Ozone Map Archive and select a region on the map (e.g. Northeast, Southeast, etc.)
    2. Then select the month of July and the corresponding year, and click "See Map Archives" (make sure Ozone is selected)
    3. Select the date, July 22, and review the "Peak AQI - Ozone" map. Look for and identify the state or states with Red (Unhealthy) or Purple (Very Unhealthy).
    4. Repeat for each region.
  3. Which state or states registered the highest ozone level on July 22 for each of the years (2002, 2003, and 2004)? What might account for this? Why?
    • Send your synthesized answers in a one page document to the Course Instructors via e-mail by Thursday, 3/24/2005.
    • Each group member should submit their completed The Ozone Between Us Student Worksheet (ozonebetweenCT.doc) to the course instructors; AND
    • Each group should send ONE set of answers for the ozone archived map activity to the course instructors with all the break-out group members' names and the information above.
    • Be sure to include New Haven, CT Grade 7 Week One Activity in the subject of your e-mail message.




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