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Becca Hatheway, Kerry Zarlengo, Lisa Gardiner, The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th


Science, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, Health

Resource Types

  • Ebooks, 36 pages
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Experiments
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus




Elementary GLOBE Air Quality Module

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  • This module about light and air quality includes an illustrated book, coloring pages, and outdoor activities that will bolster student learning and stimulate inquiry.
  • Students will learn about light, how different natural and human-made conditions affect air quality, and how air quality affects the color of the sky.
Teaching Tips


  • The illustrated book is available in several formats and languages, including PDF, ebook, Arabic, German, French, Norwegian, and Spanish.
  • Students will enjoy applying the concepts learned in the book to the hands-on experiments included in the module.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be able to follow one and two step directions in order to complete the experiments.
  • In order to complete all the experiments included in this module, you will need the following materials: blue paper, clear cups, water, milk or creamer, eye droppers, spoons, pencils, coloring supplies, prisms, hot glue sticks, penlights, white paper, contact paper, cardboard, clear tape, magnifying glass, six-sided dice, and copies of the materials provided within the module.


  • Younger students may need vocabulary defined first and the experiments can be completed as demonstrations if needed.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made for lessons about how the environment impacts health, art lessons to practice coloring and drawing, or classes about how people interact with their environment.
  • This module would work well as a mini-unit. In terms of pacing, consider reading the book and discussing in one session, using the coloring pages as a reflection after reading, and then working through the experiments in the order listed on the module. 
  • The experiments in this module would work well in a station-rotation model, where groups move through the stations on a schedule. This would especially work well if supplies are limited. 
  • Consider making copies of the printable book for students to reread during the experiments, as needed.
  • As an extension, consider providing students with a log to record the air quality in their neighborhood and discuss their findings. 
Scientist Notes
The resource from CLEAN provides teachers with a lesson plan to teach students about the effect of air pollution on the color of the sky and on human health. The lesson plan contains an ebook, printer-friendly book, and student activities. After the lesson, students will know how pollution affects their health and the colors of the sky. Students will also learn how to use a prism to show how light is affected by the prism as it passes through, create a model, run an experiment, and compare data. This resource would be a great addition to a classroom discussion on the importance of air quality.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • K-ESS2-1 Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • K-ESS3-2 Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.
      • K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
    • PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
      • 1-PS4-2 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.5 Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
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