Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education
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Is Your Bus Exhausting? Stevens Institute of Technology


TEACHERS: Air Pollution - What's it all about?

Students will be able to:
  • organize thoughts and ideas regarding air pollution


  • large sheets of paper
  • markers



A KWL is a teaching tool used in classrooms. Implementing a KWL involves teachers activating students' prior knowledge by asking them what they already Know about a topic; then students set goals specifying what they Want to learn about the topic; and after completing the activity or lesson, students discuss what they have Learned.

A suggested method for performing a KWL with students is to use a flipchart, so as the information is filled in, it can be kept for future reference to complete the What we learned portion. Also, using one sheet of paper for each question is beneficial to allow room for several student suggestions.

Ask one question at a time and allow the students enough time to brainstorm responses for the What we know section. Then proceed to the What we want to find out section. Once the activity is complete and you have the wall space, it would be desirable to hang the sheets of paper around the room to continually prompt student thinking as they move through the lessons, and also allow the students an opportunity to add more questions to the What we want to find out column.

For example:

Ground Level Ozone
Question What We Know What we want to find out What we learned
  1. What do you think causes air pollution?
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Factories
  • What other human activities or inventions cause air pollution?
  • Can anything be done to decrease the amount of air pollution?

Suggested questions to prompt the student brainstorming session about What They Know about air pollution:

  • What do you think causes air pollution?
  • How do you know that & why? There is pollution coming out of a smokestack, or tailpipe, you can see it, you can smell it, etc.
  • Where do you think you can get information about air pollution?
  • How could you find out if you live in an area with polluted air?
  • Do you think human beings are affected by air pollution?
After the students have completed the unit, the KWL can be revisited to complete the What we learned section.  This activity can serve as a great class discussion and review of the unit.  If possible, store the completed KWLs and pass them along to the next grade teachers who can use the completed sheets as a review to begin the unit.


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The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education