Drive Clean Texas

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Unit 1: What is Air Pollution?

Clean air is a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, with less than 1 percent carbon dioxide, argon, and other gases—along with varying amounts of water vapor. Even small amounts of particles and gases, called air pollutants, that are not part of this normal composition can cause us serious health and environmental problems. Air pollution is a problem in many areas of the United States. It can damage trees and lakes, and make people and animals sick. It can also damage buildings and other structures. Air pollution can cause haze, reducing visibility in national parks and sometimes interfering with aviation. The federal government regulates air pollution in order to protect human health and the environment.

Subjects Addressed:

English, Language Arts, and Reading; Mathematics; Science; and Health Education

This unit is designed to offer you maximum flexibility. Students are introduced to the basic concepts of air, air pollution, and environmental responsibility. The lessons can be taught as a whole (all activities) or individual activities may be extracted and taught separately as a complement to other curriculum materials you may be using.

Please see downloadable activities in each lesson for all TEKs covered.

Lesson 1 – Air, Air—It's Everywhere!

The air we breathe is all around us. Good, clean air gives us the oxygen we need to breathe. Even though we usually can't see or feel the air, it is there. Ask the class when they can see the air and when they can feel it. Having this discussion outside can be effective if it's a clear day with some breeze blowing. The following science experiment activities illustrate that air is made of matter, does take up space, and is very important to our health.

Purpose

Activity 1 – Mystery of the Upside Down Glass of Water (PDF, 142 KB)
Activity 2 – Air Blaster (PDF, 139 KB)
Activity 3 – Breathing and Exercise (PDF, 128 KB)
Breathing and Exercise – Activity Worksheet (PDF, 169 KB)
Breathing and Exercise – Activity Worksheet Example (PDF, 68 KB)

Lesson 2: How Does the Air Get Polluted?

Sometimes the air we breathe becomes polluted. There are many types of pollution, and it's important to be aware of how our actions can affect the world around us. Cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles are one source of air pollution because they put out bad chemicals called emissions. Emissions are made up of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. Point out to the class that they can see and smell emissions when black, odorous smoke comes out of a vehicle's tailpipe. Introduce TEX, DOT, Cool Jay, and Ollie Ozone and explain how they want to help spread the word about how we can stop pollution and smog from cars and trucks. Refer to the bulletin board display to introduce the characters, and pass out the activity book.

Purpose

Activity 1 – The Story of Pollution (PDF, 139)
Activity 2 – Air Pollution Vocabulary, Coloring, and Word Search (PDF, 133 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Transportation and Air Pollution Glossary (PDF, 86 KB)
Activity 3 – Let's Catch Some Dirt from the Air (PDF, 137 KB)
Activity 4 – All About Ozone, Starring Ollie Ozone (PDF, 136 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
How Vehicles Contribute to the Formation of Ground-Level Ozone (PDF, 2.9 MB)
The Colors of Ollie Ozone (PDF, 162 KB)
Playing Outside During Ozone Season (PDF, 381 KB)
Activity 5 – Smog Alert! (PDF, 126 KB)

Unit 2: Caring for the Air

Vehicle emissions are a major contributor to poor air quality in many Texas cities, as well as across the United States and the entire world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set minimum air quality standards and deadlines for meeting these standards for areas that are not in attainment of these goals. There are currently nine areas of Texas designated either as non-attainment (not meeting federal clean air quality standards), near non-attainment, or under attainment maintenance. Non-attainment areas are Houston/Galveston, El Paso, and Dallas/Fort Worth.. Near non-attainment or attainment maintenance are areas that are close to exceeding clean air standard and include Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Tyler/Longview, Beaumont/Port Arthur, and Corpus Christi.

Mobile sources, including the cars and trucks we drive, are major sources of polluting emissions and air quality problems. However, we love our cars and trucks in Texas. For decades, our freedom of mobility has helped to ensure a healthy and prosperous way of life. But now, that way of life is being threatened. Ironically, it's being threatened in part by the very things that have helped to make it possible—our cars and trucks.

It has become imperative that we clean up the air in Texas and work to ensure that it stays that way in the future. One of the most important steps to success is reaching our children with this message and making them aware of what it is going to take with regard to their family's and eventually their own transportation-related choices. The Drive Clean Texas campaign messages communicate the basic behavioral changes that are necessary in order for Texas to make a dent in the air pollution problem. Students are introduced to the meaning of these messages in a way that demonstrates how they can begin "caring for the air."

Subjects Addressed:

English, Language Arts, and Reading; Mathematics; Science; and Health Education

This unit is designed to offer you maximum flexibility. The lessons can be taught as a whole (all activities), or individual activities may be extracted and taught separately as a complement to other curriculum materials you may be using.

Please see downloadable activities in each lesson for all TEKs covered.

Lesson 1 – Becoming Aware—How to Drive Clean Texas

Texans must reduce the amount of vehicle emissions in the air in order to meet federal clean air requirements and to preserve the health of its citizens. Although they do not drive, our children's environmental values can have an impact on changing the travel behavior over the long term. The "Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book" is designed to build awareness of the DCT messages and educate kids through fun and interactive activities and characters.

Purpose

Activity 1 – Slowing It Down: Speed and Pollution (PDF, 133 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Activity 2 – Getting a Regular Maintenance Check-Up (PDF, 134 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Activity 3 – How Else Can We Get There (PDF, 138 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
How Can We Help Clean Up The Air? (PDF, 197 KB)
Activity 4 – Park It and Walk (PDF, 144 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Activity 5 – Clean Cars (PDF, 138 KB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book (PDF, 5.2 MB)
Air Quality Coloring and Activity Book Answers (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Fuels of the Future (PDF, 96 KB)

Lesson 2 – Affecting Transportation Choices—Walk, Don't Ride!

Driving less, bicycling, walking, carpooling, or taking the bus—these are the easiest ways for an individual or a family to reduce the environmental impact of personal transportation. Kids can make a difference in their communities—especially at their schools where traffic congestion and air quality are often problems at the beginning and end of the school day. The activities in this lesson are designed to encourage students to examine and possibly change their families' transportation habits, especially for trips to school. The message is that the least polluting methods of transportation are also the least expensive and the healthiest.

Purpose

Activity 1 – Observing Transportation Choices in Your Neighborhood (PDF, 143 KB)
Activity 2 – Trip Tally (PDF, 185 KB)
Trip Tally (PDF, 91 KB)
Trip Tally Sample (PDF, 89 KB)
Trip Tally Graph (PDF, 52 KB)
Trip Tally Graph Sample (PDF, 80 KB)

Acknowledgements

On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Drive Clean Texas (DCT) would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their thoroughly and thoughtfully produced educational material.

DCT personnel searched the nation's wealth of air quality educational material and selected a number of high quality units and lessons to use in the creation of the DCT curriculum. As a campaign funded by TxDOT, TCEQ, and the Federal Highway Administration, we searched for material relevant to transportation-related air quality. Many of these lessons are presented as they were originally conceived. However, in an effort to localize the air quality curriculum to Texas and to better fit the lessons to DCT campaign messages, some changes have been made. We invite you to visit the websites listed below for original content. The individuals and organizations below have also been credited within the lessons where appropriate.

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