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Lesson #4 of Air Quality Unit


Body Systems, Environmental Justice, Human Geography, Vocabulary


3rd, 4th, 5th


Social Studies, Geography, English Language Arts, Justice, Health


50 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides, PDF

Air Quality and Environmental Justice (Air Quality #4)

Created By Teachers:
Last Updated:
Oct 2, 2022

In this lesson, students connect air quality with environmental justice. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students discuss their journals with their classmates, sharing learnings and reflections from the last few lessons.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn the concept of environmental justice.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students explore the EPA's Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool and complete a journal entry.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
10 minutes
  • Optional: This lesson begins with students analyzing their notecards from the previous lesson's optional activity. If the students did not engage in that activity, please skip to the next step.
  • In groups, students discuss their journals with each other, sharing their learnings and reflections from the previous few lessons.
20 minutes
  • Teacher shares one of the Venn diagrams with the students. Teacher can share digitally or print a copy for each student.
  • Students write down word associations for the word "environment" for one minute. Students share out.
  • Students write down word associations for the word "justice" for one minute. Students share out.
  • Students complete the middle of the Venn diagram, writing their own description of "environmental justice." Students share out.
  • Teacher shares two definitions of environmental justice.
  • Students watch a video explaining environmental justice.
20 minutes
  • Teacher introduces the EPA's Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool. Teacher explains that this tool shows environmental justice in different places in the United States.
  • Students explore the tool.
  • Students write down what they notice.
  • Students discuss their findings with a partner.
  • Students complete a journal entry, choosing one of three provided options.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson allows students to create their own meaning of environmental justice before viewing the explanatory video.
  • The EPA's Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool is amazing. Students will love it.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video explaining environmental justice might be tough for 3rd-5th graders to understand. Students should understand the core message in the video, even if they might not understand all the details.


  • Some students may want more time to explore the EPA's Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool.
  • The reflection journal at the end of the lesson has options for student creativity and imagination.
Scientist Notes

This lesson introduces the relationship between environment and justice. Students understand if their community is healthy and what to do to create a fair, just, equitable, and sustainable planet for all to thrive. Additional materials are suitable to broaden their understanding on a wide range of topics such as segregation, the connection between climate and justice, racial justice, and social justice. All materials in this lesson are properly cited and are void of scientific contradictions. In this light, this lesson has passed our science credibility process.

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.3-5 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.


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