Students will investigate air and the natural and human components of emissions that can pollute it. They will identify interactions that take place between air and themselves at school and at home, and will explore environmentally friendly actions they can initiate to make a difference.
Many types of activity undertaken by people in their daily lives at work, home, school and play can adversely affect the environment and may be sources of emissions to air, land and water. One of the ways that industry can affect the environment, is through the emission of a toxic substance — whether in pure form, or contained in other matter, and/or in solid, liquid or gaseous form. Emissions can be separated into emissions to air, land and water. An example of how emissions to water can impact the environment is when elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus enter the waterways causing enhanced algal growth. This may eventually become blue-green algal blooms which can affect humans through contact or consumption.
Why are Australian industries trying to measure, monitor and manage emissions to air, land and water?
There has been increasing community demand to know about emissions of toxic substances to the environment. Australian, state and territory governments have agreed to legislation called National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs), which help protect or manage particular aspects of the environment. Australian industries are required to measure and monitor their emissions under this legislation.
The management of substances is necessary for several reasons:
- to maintain and improve air and water quality
- to minimise environmental impacts associated with hazardous wastes, and
- to improve the sustainable use of resources.
Australian industries, homes, schools and communities are trying to reduce emissions to decrease waste and keep environmental resources healthy. By working together, industries, researchers, conservationists and the government have introduced technologies and innovations — including changes to practices, which have reduced emissions of toxic substances to air, land and water.
Approaches to reducing emissions of toxic substances can involve:
- tracking toxic substance emissions over time, from a range of different sources and on a geographical basis
- using the emissions information to inform decision making for environmental planning and management, and to further reduce emissions, and
- making the emissions information available to all sectors of the community so that everyone can help to reduce pollution.
There is not a 'one size fits all' solution.
It is important to keep looking for new and better ways of reducing toxic emissions to air, land and water, to benefit people and the environment. Sharing information is an important step toward reducing toxic substances to air, land and water on a global scale.
Governments can use emissions information to support initiatives that help protect the environment. Some of these initiatives include:
- measuring and monitoring pollution
- setting national fuel quality standards
- encouraging transport options that reduce pollution
- management of wood heater emissions, and
- the monitoring and management of air pollutants .
Industry can use cleaner production techniques and install pollution control devices to reduce their emissions. These could include:
- using cleaner raw materials and chemicals
- installing vapour or product recovery systems
- improving internal processes, such as maintenance scheduling and inspection programs for potential leaks or spills;
- modifying and improving processes and equipment such as installing overflow alarms and increasing dust suppression, and
- installing end-of-pipe reduction devices such as fabric filters and scrubbers.
One example of industry reducing emissions is the Carter Holt Harvey particle board mill in Tumut, New South Wales which has implemented several emission reduction activities resulting in decreased emissions and better management of waste. Carter Holt Harvey particle board mill on the NPI website.
- Every type of activity has an impact on the environment.
- Air pollution is a local, national and global issue.
- Air pollution affects more than humans.
- Reducing air pollution reduces waste and keeps us healthy.
- Efficiencies in production will reduce emissions.
- Why is reducing air pollution important?
- How does air pollution affect you? How does air pollution affect different groups of people?
- How can we reduce air pollution in Australian homes and classrooms?
- What can we do and why is it important to get involved?
- Why is it important to keep looking for new and better ways of reducing air pollution?
Air, aeroplanes, alternatives, animals, behaviour, birds, Best Environmental Practices (BEP's), biodiversity, boating, care, cars, changing, chimneys, clean, clouds, colours, conserve, conservation, cultural values, ecosystem, emissions, energy, endangered, environment, environmental values, equipment, ethics, exhausts, facilities, features, fields, government, human-made, impacts, implementation, Indigenous peoples, planes, interest group, investigate, leisure, local, look after, maintenance, motorbikes, nature, ocean, particles, permits, pollution, protect, rare, resource, restrictions, safety, sea, signs, smog, smoke, sources, technology, threatened, tourism, transport, trucks, water, weather, wood heaters, work.
- Society and Environment
- Numeracy, and
- the Arts.
The unit focuses on core learning outcomes from the Years K-3 Studies of Society and Environment, literacy, ICT and science syllabuses/ curriculum frameworks.
- Collecting, analysing and organising information
- Communicating ideas and information
- Planning and organising activities
- Working with others in teams
- Using mathematical ideas and techniques
- Solving problems, and
- Using technology.
Some tips to help the unit run smoothly:
- Read through the unit thoroughly and highlight activities you think are most relevant to your students.
- Consider which of the key learning outcomes from your state syllabus that are most likely to emerge from the unit.
- Gather together key resources used in the unit, e.g. photographs, picture books, resource sheets etc. (see resources page).
- You may wish to write to parents informing them of the topic, sharing the understandings for the unit and inviting any assistance and resources.
- Organise a learning log for each student.
Ask students about air and what might be needed for it to remain unpolluted and healthy.
Talk about clean and polluted air and what the differences between the two might be. Talk about where air pollution is seen. List all ideas on a chart or whiteboard. Brainstorm where additional possible sources of air pollution can come from. Chart these.
Invite students to talk about an experience that may have included smelling and then coughing after being immersed in a place that involved smoke, fumes or other strong smells. Ask students how they feel about strong smells, smelly places and spaces. Do they have any they regularly walk past, ride past or visit? Encourage students to think, reflect and share ideas with others.
Invite students to make individual pictures and booklets illustrating strong smells, smelly places and spaces they regularly walk past, ride past or visit. Consider asking:
- Where is this place?
- What is this place like?
- Why is this place as it is?
- How is this place connected to other places?
- How is this place changing?
- What is it like to be in this place?
- How is this place similar to, or different from, another place?
Take students on a walk around the school grounds taking along paper, pencils and a camera. Look for evidence of smells (natural or diffuse). Use the opportunity to investigate where emission sources might come from. For example: bins, paved roads, windblown dust, motor vehicles, fuel sources, lawn mowing, railways, barbeques, backyard incinerators, vehicle exhausts, pesticides, glues, cleaning products, paints, tobacco, leaf blowers, woodstoves, animal droppings, fireworks, photographic processing facilities, perfume shops, fertiliser shops, refineries, swimming centres, dentists' rooms, rubbish tips, feedlots, pet shops, large poultry operations and /or putrid water bodies.
Encourage students to:
- talk about the smell,
- ask questions about the place, its surroundings and smells and record findings
- record places where smells are found
- draw features of the place where smells are found
- talk about whether the smell are natural or man-made
- write about the features of the places where smells are located.
While outdoors, talk with students about their findings. Give students opportunities to bring together this direct experience and their knowledge from family, trips, newspapers, television and other sources.
Back in the classroom, recall the walk:
- talk about and describe the smells
- make a chart describing the smells
- sort and classify descriptions into categories of the students' choice, and
- make a big book recalling the outdoor activity and write/scribe sentences for the illustrations.
During the unit, the students will ask many questions. Talk with the students about the many ways to find the answers including looking, asking and experiencing.
Discuss the people or places that might help them find out the answers to their questions. These may include teacher/librarian, expert, parents, internet or books.
Discuss some of the questions students have. Collate into a table form then give them time to find out the answers. During the course of your unit encourage students to add to the table.
|What is?||Where/when is?||Which is?||Who is?||Why is?||How is?|
|What did?||Where/when did?||Which did?||Who did?||Why did?||How did?|
|What can?||Where/when can?||Which can?||Who Can?||Why can?||How can?|
|What would?||Where/when could?||Which could?||Who would?||Why would?||How would?|
|What will?||Where/when will?||Which will?||Who will?||Why will?||How will?|
|What might?||Where/when might?||Which might?||Who might?||Why might?||How might?|
Explain that questions they ask can be answered in different ways. They could be answered by:
- looking/observing, or
Using pictures from magazines, ask students to find and cut out pictures of things or objects that are emitting pollution into the air. Show one at a time, giving students time to comment on and respond to them. Allow time for students to pool information they know and to ask questions about the pictures. Ask students to group pictures into two groups — smells in the natural environment and smells in a built environment. Encourage students to justify their groupings and to discuss how they came to their conclusion (e.g. discuss more of the picture's features)
|What we know||What we're not sure about||What we want to know|
Make collages to show the groupings of smells in the natural and built environments. Display. Present the lists of students' comments and questions with the collages.
Read, view or listen to stories about smells or pollution in places. There are a number of picture books that could be used a springboard to explore aspects of smells and pollution in natural and built environments. The following are suggested titles:
- Berenstain, S. Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore). Random House, 1999.
- Hamilton, T. Noel. A & Hwan, C. Ooops! Polluted again. Scholastic, 2005.
- Weeks, S. & Abbott. M. Little Factory, Harper Collins, 1998.
Read books for information about smells and air pollution in places. Ask students to:
- use and interpret the illustrations
- talk about what is happening and where it is happening
- identify where characters when they are affected by smells and air pollution
- ask questions about smells and air pollution
- talk about natural and built features that are affected by smells and air pollution, and
- illustrate the story setting, problem and solution.
- What is air pollution?
- How many different types of air pollution are there in the story?
- How many different types of air pollution can they think of?
- Where do they think the pollution came from?
Predict and list sources students think would be the most common. Test these by counting the number of times the source occurs or is suggested. Make a class graph of results.
Use Resource 1.1 to record more about the story read and interpreted in the class.
See Resource 1.1
With the class, prepare a class chart of things students know about air, pollution and things it affects. Students could draw pictures and explain them while the teacher scribes. Prepare a list of questions students want to investigate. Ask students to offer possible answers to these.
Place incomplete statements on cards and place them in a box:
- Air pollution is.
- Reducing air pollution, benefits the .
Students can sit in groups of 5 or 7 and take turns to select a card. Read these and ask students to discuss the statement in groups. Students report back some of the information gained.
(Adapted from Hill, S. Games that work - cooperative Games and Activities for the Primary School Classroom, Eleanor Curtin, 1992).
Mime various activities that make smells or emit air pollution. There are some ideas in Resource 1.2 Card Game - Spot the emission sources. Play the game and ask students to name things that create emissions sources and identify the sources that produce resources that we need or want.
See Resource 1.2
Use the Tracking Pollution Across Australia website to explore and identify the types of air pollution sources that can come from industrial and non-industrial sources. Follow Spike, the eastern water dragon around Australia and talk about the activities taking place. Using the students' knowledge and some detective work, trace the indicators of air pollution to their source. Identify similarities and differences between the air pollution found on the web page and in students' local area.
Use the Tracking Pollution Across Australia website to find out more about the localities emitting sources of air pollution. Talk with the students about these examples, introducing new vocabulary as needed. Look for clues and ask questions. For example:
- What is this place like?
- What catches the eye?
- What can you see in the background?
- What do people do here?
- What is happening in this place?
- What is made, produced or manufactured here?
- How are people travelling in this place?
- Could this place be anywhere else?
- Why is this place here?
- How/why/by whom were decisions made to develop this place?
- What grows here?
- What animals live here?
- What people might live/work/play here?
Ask students to decide what purpose each locality and the use it serves.
Focus on tracking pollution across Australia with Spike, the Eastern Water Dragon.
Follow the online activities and see which emitters are sourcing home or community air pollutants. Ask students to brainstorm a list of emissions that are produced at home and released into the air. Compile these into a large class list and classify.
Design a simple set of questions students could use to interview their parents about substances emitted at home and at their work. Questions should gather information about the types of substances emitted and the sources they come from.
In the earlier activity, students found smells using their senses. Ask them to recall things seen, or smelled. They share ideas with a partner and draw responses. Brainstorm words and record on a chart. Invite students to illustrate these, then group words on a class chart.
Similarly, students used the Tracking Pollution Across Australia website to explore and identify the types of emission sources that can come from some industrial and non-industrial sources. Ask students to:
- map the place in the local area
- make an illustrated card about the place showing the substance being emitted into the air with an associated caption
- write a journal entry of someone who lives nearby, and
- create a cartoon sequence or painting to show what the smelly place is like.
Students place a picture/name card of an emission source from home on their chest. They then move around the class to find one or more students with cards that might belong in a group similar to theirs. Students justify their groupings.
Using the information gained from the survey undertaken by parents, combine the results and visually represent these on a large graph. Ask students: What substances are emitted most often into the air? Why? Where do they come from?
Play "What am I?" Each student states something known about a substance emitted into the air. Record and illustrate responses. Make a class big book.
What are my feelings about air pollution?
What are some facts we have learned about air pollution?
Can we think of ways to reduce air pollution?
What is possible for us to do as users or consumers of things that cause air pollution?
What questions or issues does our learning about air pollution uncover?
What are the good points we have learnt about air pollution?
Place cut out hats on the floor and group responses as a class. Use the blue hat to determine major areas and focus questions for future investigation.
Prepare a wall grid to record information collected by students for future investigations. The left-hand column might indicate names of different types of air pollution or emission sources, for example lawnmowers, vehicle exhausts, industrial chimneys, incinerators, wood heaters, farms, pet shops, butcher shops, animal droppings, rubbish dump, sewerage treatment plant, or others identified by students.
Columns across the top might indicate the types of information collected and suggested by students, for example:
- type of smell or air pollution source
- number of smells or sources of air pollution in our community
- reason for the smells or sources of air pollution, and
- things we can do to reduce air pollution.
Assessment idea: use checklist to record student contributions to the database. This might include their capacity to suggest categories as well as provide information. This will indicate a student's skill in following a task through to completion and capacity to collect and record information appropriate to the task.
To assist with this activity, ask families to help students complete a travel diary to allow the class to examine the way we travel and help inform how we could better use the different ways of travelling. Students ask parents for help by completing a diary for one week that details when they used a car, public transport, bicycle or walked, the distance they travelled and a reason for the journey. With the help of family members, students complete Resource 1.3. On another page students draw other activities they and their families might do to help reduce their use of cars to later share with the class.
See Resource 1.3
At school students look at the results from the family travel diary, sort responses and use these to make a class graph of the number and types of trips families took in one week, distances covered and reasons for the journeys. Students make statements from the graphed data.
Assessment idea. Ask students to identify:
- the major reason for the use of family cars
- the trips that could have been made without using a car
- the car trips they could have shared with someone else, and
- whether any family could reduce the number of journeys they used cars for.
- how often most families used cars, public transport, bicycle or walked
- what the most popular distance travelled was, and
- what is the most common reason cars were used for.
This will indicate a student's capacity to interpret visual information.
Ask students to talk about what are issues:
- for them in relation to travel in the present
- for family members in relation to travel in the local area, and
- related to current forms of travel.
Expand on these thoughts and ask students what might be able to be done about these issues. Using students' ideas, brain storm possible means of travel/transport for families that emit no smells or emissions.
Brainstorm reasons why people walk. People walk for lots of different reasons, such as walking to school, walking to and from public transport, walking to, from and at work, walking to local businesses/services, walking to friends' houses, walking for fitness and health, walking for recreation, walking the dog and walking for pleasure. Encourage students to add to this list and develop a mind map of the reasons people walk.
Some schools have organised a program that enables students to walk to school with others in the care of responsible adults. Encourage students to research how a 'walking school bus' works.
See the Walking School Bus Guide.
Talk with students about TravelSmart. TravelSmart encourage students and staff to use sustainable modes of transport to get to school. The program promotes alternatives to the car, recognising the health, safety and social benefits of active travel and a reduction in local traffic congestion for both the school and its community. See the Walking School Bus Guide
Ask students to identify ways they could get to school without using a car. Create signs promoting the benefits of walking and cycling to school. Display around the school.
Ask students to mark the best walking route from home to school. In locality groups, students compare their journeys. Do any of the planned travel routes look similar? If so, would it be possible to walk together for at least part of the way? Are any parts of the route dangerous, e.g. crossing a major road? How could these be made safer?
In groups or individually, students sketch, draw or make a model of possible future forms of cars that do not produce air emissions. Display under appropriate labels. Invite other students and/or parents to view and hear about the drawings and models.
From the various lists and pictures of different types of air pollution or emission sources, ask students to classify those things made by the sources (or the sources) themselves, which people need and those that people want. There may be discussion and disagreement about what constitutes a need. Ask students to think about those 'things' they could do without.
Present pairs of students with a hypothetical situation in which a source of air emission no longer exists and alternatives must be found. For example:
- imagine life without electricity
- imagine life without industry
- imagine life without heating and cooling tools, and
- imagine life without petrol.
As a class, discuss what would happen in this situation and the alternatives they might use. Compile the ideas into a class book.
Ask students to identify problems they think could occur as a result of not reducing the amount of emissions to the air. Group those together that relate to caring for ourselves and the environment, the air and technology. Generate possible solutions for these problems.
Prepare a chart to record student findings.
|Caring for ourselves and the environment|
Ask students to mime or role-play scenarios that model ways we can reduce air pollution.
Students design labels to go around the classroom, school and home to help others ways to reduce air pollution.
As a class, suggest how we can make sure people could help reduce air pollution and make living more sustainable. Students could:
- contribute to a class article for the school newsletter
- prepare a display of models of air pollution control devices and invite other classes or parents to view the display and ask questions
- speak to other classes about the care of our air
- identify or organise school events that can encourage cycling and walking to school
- work with local or regional partners in their sustainable transport activities
- encourage the broader community to shift towards more sustainable transport practices
- identify and reflect on the factors that may influence the choice of transport to school e.g. distance from home to school, how parents travel to work, availability of secure and sheltered parking for bikes, and the safety of walking and cycling routes to school
- prepare letters to family and friends
- invite knowledgeable people to speak in class
- make a poster to advertise the use of sustainable transport
- create a calendar illustrated with the various ways we can protect the air, and
- make a poster about things we can do to reduce air pollution, i.e. encourage cycling and walking to school.
Ask students to complete a self-assessment and reflection activity using the following questions:
- What is the most important thing I have learned?
- What have I learned about myself and how I might treat our environments?
- What would I still like to find out about air pollution?
- What piece of work am I most satisfied with? Why?
Ardley, J. Transport on Earth, Franklin Watts, 1981.
Berenstain, S. Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore). Random House, 1999.
Children of the World. Rescue Mission Planet Earth, Kingfisher Books, 1994.
Davis, S. and Evely, C. Green Poems, Collins Dove, 1993.
DeBono, E. Six Thinking Hats for Schools, Books 1 and 2, Hawker Brownlow Educational, 1992.
Development Education Centre, Start with a story, D.E.C., 1991.
Hamilton, T. Noel. A & Hwan, C. Ooops! Polluted again. Scholastic, 2005.
Kurlansky, M. The cod's tale, New York: Putnam's, c2001.
Murdoch, K. Integrating Naturally: Units of Work for Environmental Education, Dellasta, 1992.
Seuss, Dr. The Lorax, Collins, 1971.
Steele, P. Land transport around the world, Macmillan Children's Books, 1982.
Weeks, S. & Abbott. M. Little Factory, Harper Collins, 1998.
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