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Healthy Homes (post-assessment)

Healthy Homes (post-assessment)

Indoor air often contains higher concentrations of pollutants than the air outside.
Courtesy of the CDC/Dawn Arlotta.

  • Grades:
  • Length: 60 Minutes


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. Student sheets are provided in English and in Spanish.

This activity is from The Science of Air Teacher's Guide. Although it is most appropriate for use with students in grades 3–5, the lessons are easily adaptable for other grade levels. The guide is also available in print format.

Teacher Background

We tend to forget that environmental problems are not restricted to outside habitats (natural or urban). Most people’s homes, offices, and schools are the “environments” in which we spend most of the day and night. Since we spend so much time inside, the quality of our indoor environments is very important.

Indoor air can be polluted by many sources. Some indoor air pollutants are so irritating that they can bother anyone who breathes them. These include paints, asbestos fibers, smoke, cleaners, insect sprays, and chemicals used on fabrics. Other pollutants can cause more problems for some people than for others. For example, some people are allergic to dust. When they breathe dusty air, people with dust allergies may start to sneeze or experience runny noses and itchy eyes. Once in a while, dusty air can cause serious breathing problems, such as those associated with asthma.

How can we keep the air inside our homes and other buildings clean and safe to breathe? A little common sense goes a long way. We can be careful about using chemical cleaners, paints, glues, and pesticides. Even better, we can use products that don’t pollute. We can reduce the amount of dust in the air by regularly changing the filters in our home heating and cooling systems. We can eliminate some sources of indoor air pollution, such as tobacco smoke, completely.

Objectives and Standards


  • We are able to influence many aspects of indoor air quality.

Science, Health, and Math Skills

  • Observing

  • Recording observations

  • Drawing conclusions

  • Applying prior knowledge to a new situation

Materials and Setup

Teacher Materials (see Setup)

  • projection system to use with the student sheet (or overhead projector and transparency of the student sheet)

Materials per Student

  • copy of the pre-assessment he or she completed at the beginning of the unit

  • copy of “Healthy Home Survey” student sheet


  1. This activity should be introduced and summarized as a whole-class discussion.

  2. Have students work individually as they conduct their home air surveys.

Procedure and Extensions

Part 1. Getting started

  1. Ask students to mention some things they have learned about indoor air. If you have used the Air unit’s Explorations magazine and/or read the story Mr. Slaptail’s Secret, one or the other might serve as a basis for beginning a discussion. Otherwise, initiate a class review of different sources of indoor air pollution.

  2. Mention that we can do many things to improve the quality of the air we breathe at home. Stress that before trying to solve problems of this type, we must look for possible sources of indoor air pollution. After those sources are identified, we can decide which actions are needed to make improvements.

  3. Give each student a copy of the “Healthy Home Survey” student page. Ask students to take their pages home and use them to conduct a survey of possible air pollutants inside their homes. Stress that an older family member or friend should help them conduct the survey. Students should circle or color different areas on their sheets in which they have found potential sources of indoor air pollution. Encourage them to draw any additional pollutants that they encounter during their surveys.

Part 2. Looking at results

  1. Invite students to share their survey results with the class. Create a list on the board of different home air quality hazards identified, or make a transparency of the “Healthy Home Survey” sheet and make annotations while you project it as an overhead.

  2. After the list is complete, have students suggest ways in which hazards can be decreased or eliminated. Do this as a whole-class discussion, or ask each student to write a paragraph about ways to improve indoor air quality.

  3. Refer students to pages 28–29 of the storybook Mr. Slaptail’s Secret. Ask them to find the different ways Mr. Slaptail’s neighbors were able to eliminate air pollution inside his house.

  4. Display the students’ surveys.

Part 3. Post-assessment

  1. Hand out students’ pre-assessments, completed at the beginning of the unit. Ask students if there are any questions that they would answer differently now.

  2. Have students use a different color ink to circle any new responses. On a separate sheet of paper, have students explain the reasoning behind their changes. Discuss students’ new responses as a group.


Conduct a “Healthy Home Survey” in your school building. Have students work in teams of 2–4 and assign teams to different parts of the building. Bring the class together to discuss students’ observations and make a list of possible improvements. Be sure to identify measures already being taken to maintain a clean indoor environment in the building.

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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