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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Health

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom, 60 minutes
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus




Whirling Swirling Air Pollution

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  • In this activity, students investigate particulate air pollution from individual activities, evaluate the environmental impact of this pollution, and consider how they can reduce it.
  • The teacher narrates a made-up story, and students work in pairs to drop food coloring into their cups of water to simulate the pollution.
Teaching Tips


  • This activity encourages students to think critically by reviewing the results of their experiment and evaluating the environmental impact of their daily activities.
  • Students learn about particle pollution in a fun way using food coloring and working in pairs.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The teacher must prepare the materials and come up with a story to tell or use the guide provided.
  • The teacher must review the background information and explain it to the students before the activity begins.


  • This resource can be used as a hands-on activity in a lesson on particulate air pollution.
  • Students can create a video or poster to raise people's awareness of their contributions to air pollution.
  • If the teacher has a large enough container available, he/she can ask students to pour their water into it and then ask them to comment on the combined effect of each individual's pollution.
  • Teachers can expand on this activity by discussing the connections between poor air quality and negative health outcomes such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and lung cancer.
Scientist Notes
This experiment about particle pollution evaluates the environmental impact of human activities, which can aid students in evaluating their personal impact and offer solutions to reduce air pollution. This is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
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