Students in southern California engaged in hands-on lessons about air pollution, participated in experiments to measure air quality in their community, and presented their findings to local policymakers as part of the latest Kids Making Sense (KMS) workshops. The Coalition for Clean Air, with funding from the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, worked with Sonoma Technology, Inc. (STI) to bring the KMS program to 7th grade students at Richard Henry Dana Middle School in San Pedro, CA, in spring 2016.
The six-week program included teacher training and three student workshops. STI scientists first engaged in discussions with the students on the scientific method, air pollution, and air quality monitoring. The enthusiastic students then divided into groups, and created and performed their own studies to measure local air quality. The students used handheld air quality sensors to collect pollutant concentrations around their school and viewed their mapped data on the interactive KMS website.
The program concluded with six student groups giving presentations to local government policymakers. Students discussed what they’d learned from their studies and provided action-oriented solutions to reduce air pollution. The policymakers applauded the students’ engagement and discussed how curriculum devoted to air quality was vital in preparing students to tackle environmental challenges.
“The ability for students to practice, apply, collaborate with experts, and extend what they learned to policymakers really empowered them in this learning experience,” the participating teacher said. “I really wish that I had this type of program for every unit that we study.”
Since 2016, with support from the Coalition for Clean Air, Dana Middle School has continued to empower their students to learn more about air quality though the hands-on KMS program.