Students at a high school in Southern California were concerned about pollution from idling vehicles at their school’s pick up and drop off point. Using the Kids Making Sense® curriculum, students learned about air pollution and its sources, and used air sensors to measure the impact of vehicles idling at their school. What they found was not quite what they had envisioned!
When challenged to consider possible sources of pollution at their school, the students immediately recognized the drop-off zone. After learning that particulate matter (PM) is released from idling vehicles, especially diesel vehicles, the students decided that this could be a potential pollution issue at their school. They designed and ran an experiment to measure PM concentrations.
Students used their Kids Making Sense air sensors to measure pollution near the high school’s drop-off zone. However, to their surprise, they found relatively low levels of PM! While collecting measurements, they noticed that few vehicles were idling in the drop-off zone due to the large parking lot located in front of their school. Parents did not need to wait in a long line to drop off students, and there was plenty of room for everyone to park.
The students were undiscouraged by their results and learned a little about how the scientific method often leads scientists on a winding road to an answer. They decided to run the same test at the middle school directly next door to the high school.
At the middle school, the students found a very different situation. In contrast to their high school, the students observed long lines of idling cars and buses. As a result, they saw higher levels of PM stemming from the idling activity. From their results, they concluded that idling at the middle school was impacting air quality and wanted to solve this issue.
The high school students worked together with middle school students to teach them how to take measurements with the air sensor. After this, the students all worked together to implement a “No Idle” campaign at the middle school.
Congratulations to all the students involved on creating awareness and real change at your schools!