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Air Pollution, Environmental Justice, Public Health


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Justice, Health


50 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

How's Your Atmosphere?

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 6, 2022


In this lesson, students discuss what they know about air quality, play a game to facilitate understanding of air quality, and create an action plan to inspire solutions in their community. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students spend some time wondering and writing about air quality, climate change, and health. 

Step 2 - Investigate: Students play a classroom game called “How’s Your Atmosphere?” and reflect on their learning. 

Step 3 - Inspire: Students create an action plan to be presented next class and shared with others.


  • This lesson utilizes student choice, active listening, and active participation.
  • The How’s Your Atmosphere game is engaging, and the Game Cards give specific examples of everyday actions that can have a positive or negative impact on air quality.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should know how to use the resources Padlet or Jamboard.
  • Teachers should know how to facilitate a Socratic seminar style discussion.


  • Movement is encouraged but not required for this game.
  • Students in class who need support can be paired or grouped with others who can assist and give guidance.

In this lesson, students will learn about air quality and air pollution and its impacts on the human body. They will also discuss some of the causes of air pollution and think about ways they can make changes in their life to reduce the air pollution footprint. The resources on air quality all cite where they are getting their data from. Videos and links have been reviewed for accuracy. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Comprehensive Health & Physical Education
    • Personal and Mental Health
      • 2.1.8.PGD.4: Analyze the relationship between healthy behaviors and personal health.
      • 2.1.8.CHSS.6: Develop an advocacy plan regarding a health issue and share this information in an appropriate setting.
      • 2.1.8.CHSS.7: Collaborate with other students to develop a strategy to address health issues related to climate change.
  • Students activate background knowledge and write their questions and wonderings on a Padlet, Jamboard, or classroom whiteboard (this will allow for collaboration and a central reference that all can see) to the following questions: 
    • What are some specific respiratory conditions you know about or have heard of?
    • What do you think determines poor air quality?
    • What are the culprits or specific things in the air that you know of that can affect air quality?
  • As a class, students review the answers the class generated and take note of others’ responses to the prompt questions. This will take place in a Socratic seminar style so that a class inquiry and discussion can help unify the next steps of the lesson and also to codify understanding.

  • Students participate in the “How’s Your Atmosphere” game. This can be played in groups or individually.
  • The directions are as follows:
    • Students or teams will be given an atmosphere. It can be a paper plate, a piece of white paper from the recycling bin, or even a student's clear desk.
    • Students take atmosphere markers (these can be beads, beans, chips, or any small item the teacher has on hand) from the central holding area and place them in their “starting” atmosphere. The distribution of different color or shaped markers will be as follows: 8 for CO2, 3 for pollution from factory production (SOx, NOx, carbon monoxide, and ozone), and 4 for particulate matter from manmade and natural sources.
    • Students roll a dice, spin a spinner, throw a yarn ball at a target, or use some other method already utilized in class to determine which station in the classroom the student will travel to in order to draw a “Game Card."
    • Teacher should set up the room in advance with numbered stations that will mirror those on the dice, spinner, target, etc.
    • Students who roll a number 4 should move to station number 4 and draw a “Game Card” and follow the directions on that card.
    • The game is over once the predetermined draws of “Game Cards” have been made or the predetermined time is up.
  • Students take a few minutes to write a response on a Padlet, Jamboard, or a class whiteboard to one or all of the following prompts:
    • After playing the game, what is something that surprised you?
    • What did you find most interesting about the chemical compounds found in the atmosphere?
    • What are some things you think you are willing to try to improve air quality?
  • Students create an action plan with their team, taking into consideration what the class wrote for responses to the prompts and their prior understanding regarding the cardiorespiratory system. Their plan should include ways to share with others the information they have learned regarding air quality, how to help with certain illnesses that result from poor air quality and climate change, and some potential solutions for the problems.
  • Students can prepare to share in the next class.
  • Students can have a few minutes to explore this resource showing real time air quality and this resource showing NJ air quality.
  • Students watch this video that summarizes what makes up the air we breathe.
  • Teachers can facilitate a short Socratic seminar style discussion on the question: What is one thing you feel certain you can commit to doing that will improve air quality?

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