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About Air

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

The Science of Air

During this activity, students learned that air is a mixture of different gases. Air is comprised of about 78% nitrogen gas (N2) and less than 21% oxygen (O2). Argon is a non-reactive gas that makes up slightly less than 1% of air, while carbon dioxide (CO2) is present in even smaller quantities (less than 1 part per 1,000). Air also includes trace amounts of many other naturally occurring gases, such as neon, helium, methane, and ammonia, as well as gases from pollution are present in air. Water vapor can occupy up to 5% of the total volume of air.

Oxygen is needed by the body but is NOT the main component of air. When we breathe, nitrogen, oxygen and all the other components of air enter and exit our lungs. Our bodies require oxygen (O2), and they release carbon dioxide (CO2) when we exhale. 


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932


Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education