Air and gases

Click on the cover for the Table of Contents

April is the month of Earth Day, and this issue on air and gases also has ideas for environmental studies related to the atmosphere.
The article Using Citizen Scientists to Measure the Effects of Ozone Damage on Native Wildflowers describes how students near the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee are doing a longitudinal study of the effects of ground-level ozone on plants. The authors show how the study incorporates the 5E learning cycle, observation, data collection and analysis. There are examples of concept maps and data collection protocols to use as examples for your own projects. SciLinks has many websites with information and activities related to ozone and several have more on how ozone affects plants: The Ozone We Breathe and Ozone Spells “Ouch” for Some Plants
I live close to Hershey, PA, where Smelling the Chocolate happens whenever I travel through the town. But the authors of this article (with the subtitle The Perks of Modeling Habits of Mind) describe a student’s journey to an understanding of what causes things to “smell.” They also include a description of the activities in their unit on smell and how these activities promote critical thinking and communication.

Reading Classroom Terraria brought back a lot of memories! Having a classroom terrarium was a popular activity back in the 1970s, so it was interesting to see the newest version. This is Terrarium 2.0: using them to study plant-related processes such as evaporation, transpiration, photosynthesis, and respiration. The website Bottle Biology has more suggestions for enhancing classroom activities with bottle gardens made from recycled materials.
Speaking of recycled materials, Home Sweet Home has some great photographs of how to build homes for Madagascar hissing cockroaches from common materials. I’ll bet some students would enjoy building the homes for these fascinating insects almost as much as they do observing them. Click here if you’re not familiar with these insects or wonder if they really do hiss.
Stay on the theme of recycling and waste management with A Suggested Project-Based Environmental Unit for Middle School. The inquiry-based lesson investigated the amount and content of household garbage. (See Trash Pie: Is Your School Serving? in the March issue of Science & Children to see how a school analyzed its cafeteria waste.)

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