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Dust Catchers

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

How Clean Is the Air You Breathe?

To focus students’ attention, create a small cloud of dust by shaking a cotton ball dipped in baking soda (or cornstarch or baby powder). Alternately, you can bang a dusty eraser against the board. Shine a flashlight through the dust cloud. Ask, What are we seeing? Do you think dust like this is always in the air? How could we find out?  

Stimulate a deeper discussion by asking, What is dust made of? Is it dangerous to our health? How can you make the air in your house cleaner?

Show students your pre-made dust catcher. Mention that they each will make one to take home or use in the classroom and place in areas that they predict will have the most indoor air pollution. After 1 or 2 weeks, students will bring their dust catchers back to school to see what the catchers have caught. 


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