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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Videos, 4 minutes, 26 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, Washington


YouTube Video

Why Air Pollution Can Be Worse Across the Street

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  • This video explains how less-expensive portable air sensors can improve air quality data collection at the neighborhood or street level.
  • Students will learn how citizen scientists in Seattle, Washington check out portable air sensors from their local library to monitor the air quality in their neighborhoods and use the data to make decisions that will help the community.
Teaching Tips


  • The video offers a balanced view of portable air sensors, which are cheaper but not quite as accurate as the stationary air quality monitors.
  • The video gives an interesting description of how stationary and portable monitors work.
  • Students will see how young people can help their communities by collecting air quality data.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students will need to be familiar with terms such as air pollution and small particle count. 
  • The video mentions that portable air sensors are not as accurate as the traditional monitors, but it does not provide specific information on the difference in accuracy.


  • If a monitor is available to borrow, science classes or environmental clubs could collect air quality data from different parts of the school campus and then present their findings to the administration. The EPA website provides information on air sensor loan programs in the United States.
  • Engineering and design classes could compare and contrast the two air sensor designs and try to determine why the traditional model is more accurate.
  • Science classes could integrate this video into lessons about diffusion, matter, atoms, or gravity.
  • The video explains how air quality can change from block to block, but it does not discuss solutions to air quality problems. Students could use this resource to learn how strategic tree planting can improve air quality.
  • Other resources on this topic include the World Air Quality Index Project's  real-time air quality index map, this guide on air quality and health from the EPA, and this activity that teaches students about particle pollution.
Scientist Notes
This 4-minute video presents how communities are using low-cost portable air sensors that can monitor and measure air quality at the local scale. This is a short, clear resource with sources provided in the video description. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Health
    • Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
      • HE.1.12.3 Explain how environment (both physical and social) and personal health are interrelated.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5.ESS3.1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • 6.ESS3.3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • Social Sciences
    • Geography (K-12)
      • HS.44 Assess how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade, land use, and issues of sustainability.
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