In Southern California, a group of high school students investigated possible air pollution sources that they encounter daily near their school’s portable classrooms. They carefully identified some potential sources of air pollution nearby and decided to focus their experiments on investigating if the adjacent bus yard, where school buses frequently idle, impacts the air quality in the portable classrooms. They used the Kids Making Sense® air sensors to measure the pollution.
The students worked as a group to devise an experimental plan for how best to measure the impact of the idling buses. They decided to measure the air quality inside the portable classrooms under two conditions: (1) when the buses were idling, and (2) when the buses were not idling. They also repeated this experiment with the classroom door open and closed to see if there was a difference in pollution levels.
The students found that the highest particulate matter (PM) values were measured when the door was open and the buses were idling. This finding confirmed that the pollution values were not higher in the portable classroom due to other factors like dust, poor circulation, or carpeting. The students had discovered that bus idling had a negative impact on the air quality in their portable classrooms
The students repeated this experiment in two other portable classrooms and discovered that one was affected to a greater extent than the other. This was because the classroom with higher concentrations was directly across the fence from the bus zone and thus closer to the buses than the other classroom. To create change based on their results, the students led a campaign at their school to move the impacted portable classroom to a location that is less affected by air pollution. As a result of the student’s measurements and awareness campaign, the school moved the portable classroom to a new location!
Congratulations to these students for making a positive change to your school and community!