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Students engage in hands-on, true-to-life research experiences on air quality topics chosen for personal interest through a unit composed of one lesson and five associated activities. Using a project-based learning approach suitable for secondary science classrooms and low-cost air quality monitors, students gain the background and skills needed to conduct their own air quality research projects. The curriculum provides: 1) an introduction to air quality science, 2) data collection practice, 3) data analysis practice, 4) help planning and conducting a research project and 5) guidance in interpreting data and presenting research in professional poster format. The comprehensive curriculum requires no pre-requisite knowledge of air quality science or engineering. This curriculum takes advantage of low-cost, next-generation, open-source air quality monitors called Pods. These monitors were developed in a mechanical engineering lab at the University of Colorado Boulder and are used for academic research as well as education and outreach. The monitors are made available for use with this curriculum through AQ-IQ Kits that may be rented from the university by teachers. Alternatively, nearly the entire unit, including the student-directed projects, could also be completed without an air quality monitor. For example, students can design research projects that utilize existing air quality data instead of collecting their own, which is highly feasible since much data is publically available. In addition, other low-cost monitors could be used instead of the Pods. Also, the curriculum is intentionally flexible, so that the lesson and its activities can be used individually. See the Other section for details about the Pods and ideas for alternative equipment, usage without air quality monitors, and adjustments to individually teach the lesson and activities.
Unit of Study