Grades 6-8

Unit 4

To view the available materials, select a lesson.

Unit Lesson Essential Skills
4. We Have to Breathe This Air: Alternative Vehicles Can Make a Difference 1. We Have to Breathe This Air? English, Language Arts, and Reading; Mathematics; Science
2. Reinventing Your Wheels Mathematics; Science

Unit 4: We Have to Breathe This Air: Alternative Vehicles Can Make a Difference

Air pollution is considered by the American Lung Association to be the number one health threat to Americans today. To many people air pollution is associated with smokestacks and industry, but in many cities the automobile is the single greatest polluter, with up to 90 percent of the urban air pollution caused by the automobile. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, driving a private car is probably the most polluting daily activity for most people.

The first lesson in this unit compares the pollution from vehicles powered by different fuels. Then students create their "dream vehicle" and look at the energy and environmental consequences of their decisions.

Teacher Guide

Subjects Addressed:

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

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 different ways electricity is created?
What are some alternative fuels for vehicles?
How does an automobile store and use energy?
How does an electric car work compared to an internal combustion engine?


Lesson 1: We Have to Breathe This Air?
Students will read and interpret charts and answer questions concerning the environmental impact of various modes of transportation and the impacts of various fuels used in vehicles and power plants.

Lesson 2: Reinventing Your Wheels
Students will learn about the different fuels and how they work differently in vehicles in terms of efficiency and performance. They will also learn how an electric car works and how internal combustion works. They will then complete a puzzle that is a design of a vehicle. They will present their designs to the class, evaluate their vehicles for the effects on society and the environment, and revise their designs if they wish.

Clean Air Tips