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My NASA Data


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


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Health

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Presentation Slides
  • Worksheets
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus



Google Slides, PDF

PM 2.5 & Mortality

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  • This interactive activity involves students analyzing and discussing map data using inquiry and curiosity as they continue to get a more complete picture of the data.
  • The activity is structured so that students begin by observing a very "zoomed in" map and then gradually view the map's legend and units to gain more information about what they are seeing.
  • A teacher's lesson plan, activity slideshow, and student worksheet are all included in this activity, and teachers can request an answer key.
Teaching Tips


  • This well-scaffolded activity allows learners to be curious and make visual observations throughout the first half of the exercise, then builds to interpreting a complex informational data map.
  • Students have the opportunity to reflect on the data and activity at the end of the lesson, and this practice of reflection is an excellent way to synthesize the knowledge gained through scientific thinking.
  • Many questions prompt students to state evidence for their answers and encourage them to be reflective as they complete the activity.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Before completing this activity, be sure that students understand PM 2.5 is a measure of fine particulate matter that can infiltrate human lungs, causing health issues.
  • To access the teacher answer key, you must request access with a school email address via a Google Doc linked on the NASA website.


  • Before watching the video, ask students how they think air pollution affects peoples' health worldwide and where they think it might lead to the most deaths.
  • Depending on how open-ended you would like the inquiry to appear, consider not showing the title slide in the slideshow before showing the images in the activity.
  • Modified worksheets with sentence starters may be helpful for some students who have trouble with open-ended inquiry.
  • Be sure students understand that the map legend on slide 8 (question 5) represents the change in death attributed to particle pollution between 2000-2019 before moving on to further interpret the map.
  • This lesson is an excellent way to build student curiosity about the topic of particulate matter pollution, so exploring the issue further after completing this activity through a reading or video is recommended.
Scientist Notes
This lesson plan from myNASAdata presents a “Zoom In Inquiry” where students are tasked with analyzing how fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) mortality is distributed across the globe. At first, students are shown small parts of figures with no legend and are tasked with determining what data they could be seeing. The overarching three part structure of the lesson guides students through the right way to analyze figures: first – be curious; second – be intellectually careful, don’t just assume you have all the answers without carefully reading legends and supporting material; third – be reflective, think about your thought process and any implications of the data. In the end, students should walk away with a good idea of how unequally PM 2.5-attributed mortality is distributed across the globe and a good method for understanding figures. This resource is visually attractive, cites recent sources, and is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Mathematics
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • 7.SP.C.6 Approximate the probability of a chance event by collecting data on the chance process that produces it and observing its long-run relative frequency, and predict the approximate relative frequency given the probability. For example, when rolling a number cube 600 times, predict that a 3 or 6 would be rolled roughly 200 times, but probably not exactly 200 times.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
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