Resources for Teachers
School Flag Program: The School Flag Program alerts schools to the local air quality and helps them to take actions to protect students' health, especially those with asthma.
Here's how it works: each day the school raises a flag that corresponds to how clean or polluted the air is. The color of the flag matches EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI): green, yellow, orange, red, and purple.
On unhealthy days, schools can use this information to adjust physical activities to help reduce exposure to air pollution, while still keeping students active.
Encourage your school and the schools in your community to adopt the School Flag Program – Get Started Here!
Earth Science Week: October 14-20 - but you can explore all year round with this handy Online Toolkit.
Take Care of Our Air at our Schools! 4th-12th Grade Grant Opportunity - teachers can apply for $275 grants to conduct environmental service projects with their students in one of two areas: Save Energy (How can we reduce energy use at schools?) Cut Traffic and Pollution (What can we do to cut the traffic in and out of school parking lots?).
Reducing energy use
Examples: Students could measure energy used by particular appliances, and/or identify times when lights are left on or equipment is left plugged in and turned on. Students could review school energy bills, identify potential savings, and make presentations to principals. Students could develop and institute an energy-saving program. Grant funds could be used to purchase measuring equipment, compact fluorescent lights, plug strips, or supplies for charts and presentations, or for field trips or speakers.
- California Energy Commission's Bright Schools Program (free assistance, studies, technical services)
- Pacific Gas and Electric
- Info on the Kill-A-Watt device that can measure appliances' energy consumption (this link is just one website; this device and other similar ones are available on other sites)
Cutting traffic and pollution at schools
Examples: Students could draw a map of school and neighborhoods and place pins on the map for development of "walking school buses" or multi-family carpools. Students could do a transportation survey and make recommendations to parent groups or administrators. Students could plan a celebration of "Walk to School Day" or "Bike to School Day."
California's Walk to School Day Headquarters: find out about efforts around the state, and register your school.
California's Safe Routes to School Program: see studies about how walking or biking to school improves children's health and sense of independence, and also helps them to be more alert at school, and find out about model Safe Routes to School programs.
- California Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School web page (with multiple links to other programs)
Videos are available free in English and Spanish from the California Air Resources Board, click on the title to go to the order page on the state's website: "A Breath of Air: What Pollution is Doing to Our Children," and "With Every Breath: Health Effects of Smog".
Lessons and activities for K-12 from Project A.I.R.E. (Air Information Resources for Educators) are available for download (free) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.
Air Pollution: What's the Solution?activities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency curricula help students learn about ground-level ozone.
The National Science Teachers Association includes lesson plans and activities to teach air quality concepts - search at NSTA Science Store under the term of interest.
Air Care Air Quality Education Program from Think Earth includes a curriculum for middle school.