Middle school students in the urban Los Angeles area were curious about air quality in different areas of their community. After learning about various sources of air pollution from the Kids Making Sense® curriculum, students developed a plan to use their air sensors to measure air quality at two locations in their community – a shipping port, and a park.
The students split into two groups to measure air pollution at the same time in both locations. Their hypothesis was that emissions at the shipping port would be higher than at the park due to emissions from ships, machinery, and off-road vehicles.
Both groups took air pollution measurements on a Saturday. The group at the port observed low levels of activity and pollution. The group at the park noticed high levels of activity from people barbecuing and kids playing on a dusty playground.
When students compared particulate matter (PM) values, they found that PM concentrations were higher in the park than the port, which was counter to their initial hypothesis.
The students learned that different emission sources have different patterns throughout the week. If this experiment had been conducted on a weekday, it is likely that results would have showed opposite findings. The shipping port likely would have had higher levels of truck and ship activity with higher particle emissions, and the park would likely be less busy. It was an important lesson that not all sources have the same patterns throughout the week, and, in reality, sources can have daily differences in pollution levels.
If you are interested in bringing Kids Making Sense® to a school near you, Sonoma Technology can help you write a proposal to secure grant funding. Email Program Director Olivia Ryder at ORyder@SonomaTech.com for more information!