Grades 9-12

Unit 1

To view the available materials, select a lesson.

Unit Lesson Essential Skills
1. What Is Air Pollution and How Do Cars Contribute to It? 1. Air Pollution Word Search English, Language Arts and Reading; Science; Social Studies
2. Pounds of Pollution: What's in the Air and How Bad Is It? English, Language Arts and Reading; Science
3. Easy Breathers Video Science; Social Studies

Unit 1: What Is Air Pollution and How Do Cars Contribute to It?

This unit begins with a simple, quick word search exercise teachers can use as a warm-up to discussions about air pollution. This activity helps trigger students to begin thinking about the vocabulary associated with automobile emissions and air pollution.

Students will use two-liter soda bottles to begin to understand the "weight" of automobile pollution and to raise their awareness about the differences between pollutants and the quantity of pollutants emitted by cars versus sport-utility vehicles (SUVs).

The Easy Breathers video, produced by students in Wisconsin, tackles the nationwide problem of automobile-related air pollution. Ordering this free video is simple (go to The video may arrive in about a week, and it is very well done. It features segments filmed in Houston and elsewhere around the country, and it contains features tied into the Easy Breathers web site. The video can stand alone or may be used in conjunction with lessons offered at the web site (see "Auto-Mania, Average Vehicle Occupancy in Your Community, and Pounds of Pollution" recommended curricula).

Teacher Guide

Subjects Addressed:

English, Language Arts and Reading; Integrated Physics and Chemistry; Biology; Environmental Systems; Chemistry; Geology, Meterology, and Oceanography; and Social Studies

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

Essential Questions:

What are some of the key terms associated with air pollution?
How much of a gas weighs a pound?
Which emit more pollutants, new hybrid cars or poorly maintained older cars?
How noxious is NOx?
Can young drivers make a difference in air quality?


Lesson 1: Air Pollution Word Search
This lesson is designed to familiarize students with terms associated with air pollution, automobile exhaust, and air quality.

Lesson 2: Pounds of Pollution: What's in the Air and How Bad Is It?
Students will learn techniques to visualize the amount of air pollution emitted by a car each year.

Lesson 3: Easy Breathers Video
Students are presented with a video—created by other high school students—that begins establishing the links between air pollution, the vehicles we drive, and the way we use our vehicles.

Clean Air Tips