This lesson introduces the connections between air quality and environmental justice.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students consider how air quality and public health are related.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students complete a playlist of five activities, exploring air quality, public health, environmental justice, and New Jersey's efforts to create a cleaner and more just society.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students engage in a fishbowl discussion and share ideas to support initiatives related to air quality, public health, and environmental justice.
Students read the following statement: Human cardiorespiratory health has been directly linked to air quality, and air quality has been directly linked to environmental injustice, meaning that poorer and marginalized communities suffer more from poorer air quality.
Students answer the following questions:
Is the opportunity for good health a social and environmental issue? Why or why not?
What questions or wonderings do you have about the statement above?
Students keep their responses to reflect more deeply in the Inspire section.
Teacher may consolidate student responses on the whiteboard or poster paper to help facilitate class discussion.
Students independently complete five tasks in a playlist activity.
Students complete the following tasks:
Review the human respiratory system. Look over the diagram and map out or draw how air circulates through our bodies.
Watch the video on environmental justice and record two or three points of interest or concern.
Explore the air quality map. Find a station close to where you are now and compare it to other cities. Keep a record of your findings.
Read about the New Jersey Environmental Bill and record your reflections and thoughts about it.
Students participate in a fishbowl discussion.
Teacher may use playing cards or another preferred method to randomly determine which half of the class begin in the inner circle as the discussion group and which half of the students begin in the outer circle as focused listeners.
Inner circle students sit in a circle, and outer circle students stand to observe and listen.
Inner circle students use their notes, wonderings and ideas from the Inquire and Investigate parts of the lesson to discuss with their peers. The outer circle students take notes about points they hear that are impactful or interesting.
Teacher asks, “What considerations or expectations should we have for one another during a fishbowl activity?” Some examples include:
This is primarily an exercise in listening.
When speaking, share your insights, knowledge, and questions.
Always maintain a respectful tone.
Disagreements are OK, but combativeness is not.
Discourse should be factual, serious, challenging, and open for respectful exchanges of opinions.
Students switch groups after 10 minutes.
This lesson illustrates how air quality is related to cardiorespiratory health and how environmental injustice exacerbates these issues in marginalized communities. A well-sourced list of resources is provided where students can learn about human respiration, environmental justice, air quality in New Jersey, and what is being done to address environmental injustice by both the state and the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. Students are tasked with reviewing these sources and then sharing what they learned in a fishbowl discussion. This lesson is recommended for teaching.