Air Pollution Project

Mt. Pleasant, Washington DC


Lesson Plan for DC Metro Science for the People ( project   with Bancroft Elementary School :

         Is Your Neighborhood Hazardous to Your Health? (June 25, 2009)


Contact People:         Peter Caplan (

                                    David Schwartzman (



Week 1:


Introduction to Air Pollution:  effects on health; particles vs gases

How do you get rid of a bad smell in a room?

How does the air in the room try to clean itself? Turbulence demo.

Outside air: Air quality codes 

Activity:  Collect related local newspaper, TV - plus Google.


Week 2:


Discussion of news items collected; intro to particles and ozone

Pollution and the atmosphere: AQI - what it is, what pollutants it applies to,

Dispersion  demos: ink in water; onion in air, soap bubbles in air.

How does outside air clean itself When is pollution worst - season, time of day.

Week 3:


Measuring air pollution:   Where in your neighborhood is the dirtiest air?

Group activity: Estimate particle concentration using sticky tape collector

Organizing observations: Keeping log of times, places, weather and AQI

Code red days:  Is Mt. Pleasant complying? 

Pollution’s effect on nature:  Observing lichens in Mt. P – where are they healthiest?


Week 4:


Measuring particle concentration with a portable electronic sampler

Continue sticky tape measurements

Continue monitoring code red days in media, and note concurrent weather

Week 5:


Bring in all measurements and analyze any patterns found

What can we do about air pollution?

Questions for future studies to resolve






- > Teacher AQI kit:


- > Large scale maps and hourly loop: (for loop, click on "ozone now" or "particles now")


- > Clean Air Partners action programs


-> other state and municipal ozone action days programs:


- > Ozone Action Days - daily map of which cities have AQI in unhealthy range


  -> MWCOG air quality forecasts & obs, past & present; maps


  -> AQI forecasts for Balt and DC: (with link to Balto haze camera)


-> Monthly day-by-day air quality summaries:


-> Webcams can be looked at for visibility (smog) as well as traffic density:


- > And, keep in mind:  traffic counts (trucks, motos, buses, cars), gas station activity on code red days (compliance), public transit use, hospital admissions