A Breath of Poor Air: Inspecting Indoor Air Quality in the Classroom

Warm Up: Introducing IAQ
     1. Write the word pollution on the board and ask students what words come to mind when they think of pollution. Make a list on the board for them to see.

     2. Did your students mention air pollution? If so, did they think about air pollution inside their home or school? Have them consider if air pollution occurs indoors, and where it might come from.

Activity One: What Should We Know About IAQ?
     1. Pass out one copy of Reproducible #1- IAQ Background Information to each student. Go through the worksheet with them, discussing IAQ and possible sources of air pollutants in your classroom.

Activity Two: Inspecting the Classroom
     1. Split students into groups of 2-3. Pass out one copy of Reproducible #2- IAQ Classroom Checklist to each group.

     2. Have students complete the worksheet by giving them time to inspect the classroom for possible pollutants and IAQ sources. Depending on time and space, have each group inspect all areas, or each group inspect one area and share.

Activity Three: Thinking of Solutions
     1. Go through the IAQ Classroom Checklist and have students share their observations. Discuss trends the students noticed as an entire class.

     2. Have students share their ideas for improving the classroom’s IAQ. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of making these changes and brainstorm for the most realistic. Consider ranking the proposed solutions by difficulty to implement.

Wrap Up: Writing a Pledge
     1. Make a class pledge to improve your classroom IAQ by picking 1-3 possible solutions from the previous discussion and vowing to stick to them. Don’t just focus on the easy ones! Think about solutions that will have the greatest impact on student and teacher health.

     2. Write the pledge on the board or a large piece of paper, including both the actions you will take and the health problems it will help solve (for example: We pledge to open the windows on nice days to increase ventilation and decrease throat and nose irritation.). Keep this pledge hanging in the classroom and/or hang in the hallway to share with others!

Extension: Inspecting the School
Now that students have inspected their classroom have them look over the entire school. If possible, have a custodian or school administrator give them a tour of how the heating, cooling, and ventilation system works. Find more checklists to check IAQ for the entire school at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/actionkit.html - Available_for_Download.

Take your class’ pledge to the principal, maintenance crew, or other administrator. Are there ways to expand your pledge if you had their help? Set up a meeting to discuss improving the IAQ at your school!