Cutting Edge > Courses > Introductory Courses > Activities > Ozone Pollution

Near-Ground Level Ozone Pollution

Omowumi Alabi
,
University of Missouri-Kansas City
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This page first made public: May 15, 2008

Summary

This lab exercise is designed to provide a basic understanding of a real-world scientific investigation. Students are introduced to the concept of tropospheric ozone as an air pollutant due to human activities. Students will learn how to use, analyze, and visualize data to investigate this air pollution problem, and communicate the analysis to others in a standard scientific format.

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Context

Audience

This is an introductory (undergraduate) environmental science course for major and non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be familiar with the structure of Earth's atmosphere, and the average vertical distribution of ozone i.e. the location of 'good' and 'bad' ozone.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is part of a sequence of exercises.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of this activity is to model, to some degree, how real science is performed in the natural world. Students will use data to investigate the relationship between an air pollution problem (ozone pollution) and any of the following: season, human population, industrialization, geographic location, or health hazard. The result of the investigation will be communicated to others in a mini-journal paper.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity


Formulation of hypothesis
Use and analysis of online data

Other skills goals for this activity

Students develop skill on how to write a technical paper

Description of the activity/assignment

In class, students are introduced to atmospheric composition and how this can be altered by human activities. As an example, ozone is introduced as an air pollutant, mostly due to human activities. Computer models are used to illustrate the formation of ozone and demonstrate the factors that affect the concentration of ozone in the troposphere (using the SmogCity2 simulation game). The health hazards of ozone pollution are deliberated on, and the concept of 'ozone alert day' introduced. As class example, the instructor obtains data from http://airnow.gov/ to investigate the relationship between ozone pollution in Kansas City and the season. The result of the investigation is reported in a sample mini-journal paper.

The students' assignment is to select a city of choice in the United States, and use data to investigate the relationship between ozone pollution and any of the following: season, human population industrialization, city location, or asthma. This activity gives students practice in using data to investigate an air pollution problem and communicate their result to others in a standard format. Each student will report the result of their investigation in a mini-journal paper, with a relevant title, and the following sub-sections: an abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and references. Guided by a grading rubric, this activity helps student to learn how to a write technical paper.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students will report their investigation in a mini-journal paper, with a relevant title, and the following sub-sections: an abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and references. In addition, students' understanding of the basic scientific principles will be assessed through quizzes. Students will perform with a minimum of 80% accuracy.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

EPA page on ground level ozone
Smog City2 an interactive air pollution simulator
AirNow.gov air quality home page
AirNow Ozone page

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