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Air, Atmosphere and Living Systems

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The Air unit lets students creatively explore air and the atmosphere, air quality and related issues such as allergens in the places we live, study and work. The unit’s integrated components help students understand important science, health and environmental concepts related to air.

The Science of Air Teacher’s Guide provides inquiry-based lessons that entice students to discover concepts in science, mathematics and health through hands-on activities.

In the student storybook, Mr. Slaptail’s Secret, Riff and Rosie look forward to another fun summer together in Bright Water Corners. This adventure finds them observing their neighbor, Mr. Slaptail, dragging a big, dark bag down a moonlit road. As the mystery unfolds, the cousins discover Mr. Slaptail's cluttered, dusty home is packed full of trash, recycled products and chemical products, like paint and glue. What makes Rosie sneeze? What does Mr. Slaptail do with all of his stuff?

Explorations is a colorful magazine full of articles and fun things for children and adults to try in class or at home, including hands-on activities like creating a model of how air moves into and out of the body.

The Math Link extends each unit by connecting the story and hands-on science activities to mathematics skill-building and critical thinking exercises, and The Reading Link provides language arts activities related to the story.

Complete Teacher's Guide

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The Science of Air Teacher's Guide

Students explore basic concepts related to air and the atmosphere, air quality, and associated issues, such as allergens in the places we live, study and work.

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The Science of Air Classroom Slides

Slide set containing information and images from The Science of Air Teacher's Guide, for use in classrooms as needed.

Courses

Thumbnail Image for Environmental Health: Indoor Air Pollution Short Course

Environmental Health: Indoor Air Pollution

The respiratory system is exposed to all substances in the air, from inhaled gases to various particles. Learn how indoor air-borne contaminants end up in the lungs and body. (6 contact hours)

Individual Lessons

Thumbnail Image for What Is Air? (pre-assessment)

What Is Air? (pre-assessment)

Students complete a pre-assessment to gauge their knowledge related to air, gases, breathing and respiration, indoor air and environmental health.

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Gases Matter

Students are introduced to the concept of gases. If students already have explored this topic, the lesson may be used as a review.

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Thumbnail Image for About Air

About Air

Students use different colors of popcorn to model the composition of air.

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Thumbnail Image for Moving Air

Moving Air

Students observe how warming or cooling a small amount of air changes the amount of space it occupies inside a bubble.

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Thumbnail Image for Breathing Machine

Breathing Machine

Students create a model that approximates how the lungs, chest and diaphragm interact during breathing.

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Thumbnail Image for Lungometer: Vital Lung Capacity

Lungometer: Vital Lung Capacity

Students gauge their own vital lung capacity—the amount of air that can be forced out of the lungs in a single breath.

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Thumbnail Image for Heart and Lungs

Heart and Lungs

Students learn how to measure their breathing and pulse rates, and explore the impact of physical activity on their measurements.

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Thumbnail Image for Dust Catchers

Dust Catchers

Students make a simple device to collect particles from the air at home or in the classroom.

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Thumbnail Image for Fungus Among Us

Fungus Among Us

Students grow and observe bread mold and other kinds of common fungi.

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Thumbnail Image for There's Something in the Air

There's Something in the Air

To model the movement of pollutants through the air, students compare the dispersal of odors, both inside and outdoors.

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Thumbnail Image for Healthy Homes (post-assessment)

Healthy Homes (post-assessment)

Students complete a post-assessment to demonstrate what they have learned about air composition, breathing, indoor and outdoor air quality, and other subjects covered in this series of lessons.

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Unit Components

Use the Air unit's inquiry-based, discovery-oriented educational materials to help students understand important science, health and environmental concepts related to air.

Thumbnail Image for Mr. Slaptail's Secret Reading

Mr. Slaptail's Secret

Rosie's cousin, Riff, comes to visit for the summer, and they are intrigued by the activities of Rosie's mysterious neighbor, Mr. Slaptail.

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Explorations Magazine

Students learn about the properties of air, identify microscopic entities found in dust, make a lung model, read about a pulmonologist, and trace air pathways in the body.

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The Math Link

Math worksheets connect the story, Mr. Slaptail's Secret, to mathematics skill-building and critical thinking exercises.

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The Reading Link

Ready-to-use reading and language arts activities directly related to the subjects covered in lessons and the storybook, Mr. Slaptail's Secret.

Thumbnail Image for Air: Make a Paper Flyer Worksheets

Make a Paper Flyer

Students use inexpensive materials to create and decorate a simple paper flyer, and then test it.

Related Video and Slide Presentations

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Density

Explore the relative density of solids, liquids, and gases, and learn techniques for measuring the density and volume of common objects.

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Science Safety

Good safety habits are critical in any learning environment, especially during inquiry science investigations. This presentation covers key safety concerns and provides tips to help make your science classroom safer.

Video Digital Slide Set
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States of Matter

Basic information about the nature of matter, the different forms it can take, and the characteristics of each state of matter. This video also discusses how matter changes from one state to another.

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Tools and Equipment of Science

Learn about the tools and equipment needed by elementary students to engage in hands-on inquiry science. This presentation was made originally for teachers in Houston, Texas, but most of the information is widely applicable.

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Thumbnail Image for What's New with Asthma Presentation

What's New with Asthma

Peter W. Haitt, MD, speaks about asthma and options for treating it.

Thumbnail Image for Why Do Our Ears Pop? Video

Why Do Our Ears Pop?

Our ears pop in airplanes in flight, and sometimes when we have a cold. What makes that happen?

Thumbnail Image for Why Do We Sneeze? Video

Why Do We Sneeze?

Allergy season is here and people start sneezing. Cold season is here and the same thing happens. Why?

Nature News Stories

BioEd Online is pleased to provide current biology and life sciences news stories from Nature News, the science syndication arm of the premier international science publisher, the Nature Publishing Group.

For articles on a variety of topics, visit BioEd Online's Nature News library.

Glider aims to break world record — and boost climate science Mobile-phone expansion could disrupt key weather satellites Clouds get high on climate change Cloud-seeding surprise could improve climate predictions Global warming already driving increases in rainfall extremes

Associated Teaching Units

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The Food Unit

The Food unit allows students to have fun learning about food sources, healthy eating, food safety, food groups and overall nutrition.

Thumbnail Image for Global Atmospheric Change Resources

The Global Change Unit

The Global Change unit gives students an opportunity to investigate a variety of physical and life science concepts related to energy, metabolism and the role of nutrients in the body.

Thumbnail Image for Water: Resource for Life Resources

The Water Unit

The Water unit provides students with a fresh look at water and lets them discover why it is necessary to the well-being of all living creatures.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932