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Hot Mess, PBS


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 12 minutes, 50 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Essentials of Environmental Science: Understanding the Atmosphere

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  • This video explains the structure of the atmosphere and how human-caused air pollutants impact the global system.
  • Students will learn about the ozone layer, solar radiation, criteria pollutants, and EPA regulations.
Teaching Tips


  • It displays graphs, diagrams, maps, and charts that teachers can pause on to provide a deeper understanding of the various topics covered in this video. 
  • The video explains atmospheric problems like ozone depletion and criteria pollutants, but also discusses solutions like the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of chemical reactions before watching this video. 
  • There is an error in the video about UVC wavelengths at 2:24, explained further in the description and top pinned comment. 


Scientist Notes
This resource is a 13-minute video that presents a comprehensive overview of atmospheric science. The composition of the atmosphere and some of its structure are introduced before discussing the ozone layer, solar radiation, pollution, environmental regulations, industrial pollutants, and other topics. This resource does not shy away from discussing complex topics, but it does a great job of explaining terminology and jargon while making the topic approachable. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
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